As South Africa honors heritage month, NACO Netherlands Airport Consultants, a Royal HaskoningDHV company hosted 118 girls and boys who are aspiring aviation engineers to highlight opportunities in the industry. The event was hosted in collaboration with Girls Fly Programme Africa Foundation (GFPA), and Women in Aviation (WAI) at their annual international Girls in Aviation Day (GIAD) #GIAD21, held at McAuley House in Auckland Park.
This year thousands of girls (ages 8 to 17) around the world will participate in the seventh annual #GIAD21 hosted by WAI Chapters and Corporate Member, with the event having grown in size and scope very year since its inception in 2015. In 2019 alone, GIAD welcomed more than 20,000 attendees participating in 119 events in 18 countries. In 2020, WAI launched the Aviation for Girls App, and thousands of girls from nearly 60 countries participated throughout the year.
NACO will be hosting 118 girls and boys (in smaller groups to adhere to COVID-19 protocols) for a fun morning of activities to celebrate GIAD and our South African heritage. These learners have attended a five-week course in 3D Design and Design Thinking, including the Airbus Little Engineer 3D Modelling Programme, and will showcase some of their designs during the event. They will also be introduced to other leading technologies such as drones and 3D-printing.
This initiative helps address perceptions that aviation is an industry only suited to men, with most occupations in civil aviation remaining very gender segregated, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The ILO notes that pilot and mechanic roles are mostly filled by men, while cabin crew tend to be women. Shockingly, some countries’ legal frameworks prevent women from filling many roles – it was only in January 2021 that the Russian Federation made it legal for women to become pilots, truck drivers and railway drivers…but they are still not allowed to become aircraft mechanics.
“Gender diversity can only benefit the workplace, bringing innovation and different skill sets into the sector,” says Kreanta Moodley, an Airside Systems Specialist and Project Manager at NACO. “Gender and racial diversity allow for more inclusive communication and leadership styles, while inspiring the next generation of potential aviation professionals and engineers by showing them that the sector really is accessible to them.
“It’s through initiatives like this that South Africa’s youth can truly be inspired to soar to great heights – literally and figuratively!”