The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) in partnership with Collins Aerospace staged a 2-day conference on 19-20 October to facilitate dialogue, share information, experiences and best practices to attain gender diversity and youth development in aviation.
Air Transport is the backbone of many economies across Africa and is critical for the integration of the African continent. One of aviation’s greatest potential markets is Africa. Africa has a young and rapidly urbanizing population of over 1.3 billion and aviation is the best, and sometimes the only, option for efficiently connecting this huge market.
As stakeholders continue to put in place measures to redefine and restart the travel industry, the attainment of gender diversity and the development of skilled aviation professionals remain vital for sustainability.
The conference was held in virtual format under the theme: “Women and Youth Development in Aviation for a Sustainable Future”. The conference provided an ideal forum for air transport industry stakeholders to take stock of the trends, deliberate on feasible solutions to bridge the gender gap and develop young aviation professionals for the sustainability of the air transport sector.
The event revealed that women numbers are still low in STEM-related careers and women are underrepresented in leadership positions in aviation. In the world’s top 100 airlines, just 3% of airline CEOs and COOs and 8% of CFOs are women according to a study done by IATA. The gender diversity in aviation is a work in progress, with slow improvements witnessed in the last decade, a lot more needs to be done.
Mr. Abdérahmane Berthé – AFRAA Secretary General, stated: “The ICAO and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) underscore the importance of gender equity to spur economic growth and promote social development. There is need to make the aviation industry more gender balanced at the national, international and global levels. Investing in women and youth has a multiplier effect on productivity as well as sustainable growth. For this to happen, governments, companies, organizations and all development actors need to enter a meaningful process of concrete actions.”
“Regarding the subject of youth, the development of skilled professionals in the aviation and aerospace industry in Africa is critical as a large contingent of the current aviation professionals will retire and the aviation growth will require more qualified and competent professionals. The Continent needs to train, develop and groom youth to meet the African global needs of the aviation industry of tomorrow,” Mr. Berthé added.
Stakeholders emphasised the need for actions by the industry for gender diversity in the areas of training, collaboration across the industry, leadership and policy. To enhance youth development also, the event called for adequate action regarding financing, training, communication and employment opportunities. Over 300 participants comprising of Travel and Tourism fraternity in Africa and across the globe participated in the event.