Girls CAN fly: Afghan women set precedent for gender diversity in aviation
PUBLISHED: 10:25 08 March 2021 | UPDATED: 10:25 08 March 2021
“This truly was a historic moment, not only for the airline but for women in the region as a whole. It has been the honour of my life to be part of such a historical flight”
A Defining Moment in Aviation and Gender Diversity
Afghanistan and gender representation are not phrases you would ordinarily see in the same sentence, let alone describing a moment in aviation history. Given the country’s turbulent past, particularly in women’s rights, Afghan women face many barriers to entry into the job sector, much less trying to break the proverbial glass ceiling in an industry traditionally dominated by men across the globe
Though, with that being said, in February this year, things changed dramatically when Afganistan’s first all-female crew took off on their first flight on KAM Air. Invited to join the flight and this historic occasion, aviation pundit Josh Cahill was so moved by the moment and its impact on women in the industry, that he will be launching a documentary on the 90-minute flight aboard the 23-year-old Boeing 737-500 (Reg: YA-KMN). The flight, which took off from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul at 13:00 on 24 February 2021 for its 350-nautical mile flight to Herat in the West of Afghanistan, marked a defining moment for gender diversity in both the country’s largest airline and Afghan women.
Afghan Women Prove the Country is More Than a War-Torn Nation
Speaking of the documentary and the recent flight, First Officer Mohadese Mirzaee (22) expressed her hopes that the flight encourages more young Afghan women to chase their dreams and believe in themselves.
Looking back on the flight, Cahill noted, “This truly was a historic moment, not only for the airline but for women in the region as a whole. It has been the honour of my life to be part of such a historical flight; it sends a strong message to the world that Afghanistan is more than just a war-torn country, given that during the Taliban occupation, women had no rights.” The current Afghan government is committed to women’s rights, although it is able to enforce the rights for only a small segment of Afghan women and only sporadically; principally for urban women whose male relatives allow access to education and jobs.
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Although there has been a steady growth in the number of female pilots in the last few decades, the percentage of female pilots globally remains incredibly low. Recent statistics released in 2020 paint a grim picture of an industry where women make up only 1.5% of airline captains and 5.1% of all pilots are women.
“In the years that I have been working in this industry, it is clear that the barriers that limit the growth of female pilots are so deeply entrenched that I believe it will take a concerted effort of both aviation companies and the greater airline and education community as a whole to inspire women to soar in this field,” Cahill urged. “The launch of this documentary is the first of many I hope to showcase, in
hopes that young girls are encouraged to pursue a career in aviation when they grow up. This is why I have launched it on my YouTube channel so that as many young women across the world can have access to this story of hope and encouragement.”