National Workshop on Gender Equality in Aviation Held in Lusaka

A three-day national awareness workshop focusing on gender equality and opportunities for women in the aviation sector was held in Lusaka, Zambia, from 3rd to 5th July 2024. Similar events are planned targeting Member States in Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region with the primary aim of bolstering the regulatory and institutional capacities of civil aviation institutions and fostering an inclusive environment within the industry.

The workshop, jointly organized by the COMESA Secretariat in collaboration with the Ministries of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Transport and Logistics, Ministry of Education, and the Civil Aviation Authority, was funded by the European Union under the Support to Air Transport Sector Development (SATSD) programme.

The event aims to generate interest among policymakers and industry leaders to encourage the active participation of women in aviation and to promote equal opportunities.

Speaking at the official opening ceremony, Civil Aviation Authority Director General Captain Derrick Luembe emphasized the importance of gender equity in aviation.

“Gender equity in aviation is not just about fairness,” he stated, “but about leveraging the full potential of the workforce by promoting inclusivity and ensuring sustainable growth and innovation in the industry.”

Captain Luembe, represented by the Civil Aviation Public Relations Manager Sepiso Zimba, acknowledged the long-standing challenges faced by the aviation industry.

“For a longtime, the aviation industry has struggled with the under-representation of women in technical roles and leadership positions. Stereotypes and biases negatively affect the recruitment, retention and promotion of women in aviation careers,” he stated adding that  “A workplace culture where the industry is male-dominated, with unequal access to training opportunities, lack of mentorship, and the need to balance work, family, and career responsibilities, especially disadvantages women due to societal expectations around caregiving responsibilities.”

At the same function, Mrs Beatrice Hamusonde, Director of Gender and Social Affairs at COMESA Secretariat, called for the transformation of the aviation sector from a masculine corporate culture to one that attracts, promotes and retains female talent.

“It is crucial to create relevant opportunities at the state, regional and international levels for more women to pursue careers in the aviation sector and advance their careers on an equal footing with their male counterparts,” she added.

Hamusonde highlighted the ICAO Assembly Resolution A41-26, which urges states, regional and international aviation organizations, and the international aviation industry to demonstrate strong, determined leadership and commitment to advancing women’s rights.

“The resolution calls for the necessary measures to strengthen gender equality by supporting policies and establishing and improving programs and projects to further women’s careers in the aviation industry,” she noted.

The awareness workshop was also extended to Pupils at Saint Mary’s and Saint Patricks Secondary Schools in Lusaka where they had a chance to ask questions related to various Professions in the Aviation sector.

Participants observed that the workshop was a pivotal step towards creating a more inclusive and equitable aviation sector, aiming to inspire significant changes and improvements in gender equality across the regions involved.