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  • Ursula Wynhoven - ITU | EQUALS Leadership

Blog: Gender equality in aviation profession – where "dreams soar"

As an EQUALS founding partner and the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technology, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) was delighted to participate in the Next Generation of Aviation Professionals Global (NGAP) Summit hosted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal, 27-28 November 2017 -- and to be part of the dialogue on increasing the participation of women in this employment sector.

In order to address the anticipated near-term shortage of skilled aviation professionals, ICAO launched the NGAP initiative to ensure that there are enough qualified and competent aviation professionals to operate, manage and maintain the future international air transport system.

ICAO is a fellow United Nations specialized agency, which like ITU, is passionate about women and girls in tech. Women are very underrepresented in most aviation jobs except for flight attendants. Only around 3-5% of pilots, as an example, are women.

In her opening welcome, ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu said, "As a woman who has served in the air transport sector throughout her professional career, I am fully committed not only to removing barriers to women’s participation, but also advancing their professional development in aviation. Part of the solution is ensuring that girls and women are better aware of the personal and professional growth opportunities which await them in the aviation sector."

One example of ICAO's efforts to raise awareness about aviation opportunities is the successful Dreams Soar initiative that the agency supports.

ITU was pleased to share its experience bringing women and girls to tech and tech to women and girls by presenting EQUALS in the NGAP panel on the need for organizations to prepare for and adapt to career expectations of the next generation of aviation professionals. How to achieve gender equality in technical fields and feed the pipeline was a key theme. The need for more female role models to attract and inspire women and girls to STEM fields is one of the pieces of the puzzle.

The panel was preceded by a keynote from Dreams Soar CEO and pilot Shasta Waiz, a refugee from Afghanistan who settled with her family in the United States and against all odds became a pilot who flew solo around the world in a tiny plane to show girls and boys what is possible and inspire STEM careers.

Watch her inspirational story here:

Learn more about ICAO's initiatives to promote women in the aviation industry on their website.

Ursula Wynhoven is the ITU Representative to the United Nations, New York. She joined the ITU in September after 14 years with the UN Global Compact where, among other things, she led that initiative’s work on gender equality as Chief, Social Sustainability, Governance and Legal.

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