By Girmachew Gashaw
She has aspired to be a pilot since her childhood. The moment, the launch of All-Women Functioned Flight on 19 November 2015 from Addis Ababa to Bangkok was an ample opportunity to showcase her skill. The flight led by Pilot Amsale Gualu, Co-pilot Selam Tesfaye and other women staff was very much successful.
This historic flight was aimed at crystallizing Ethiopian corporate conviction of “Women Empowerment for a Sustainable Growth.” The flight was the first of its kind in the Ethiopian 70 years journey. What makes the flight special was, it incorporated and run by all women crew. Following the launch of such an amazing and promising scenario, Enat Bank (a bank established by women entrepreneurs) was the first to acknowledge the effort of the Ethiopian Air Lines geared towards empowering women.
Glorified with a majestic look and full of smiles, Amsale appeared to the podium and confidently said, “Good evening passengers, this is from flight operation room, I am Amsale Gualu today’s chief pilot.” And the audience was amazed by a speech with full confidence and applaud and cheered her with amicable gesture. She went on saying that what we have started to discharge is a testimony for women being capable doing anything if they are given chance. Though my assistant and I are expected to take lion’s share of the burden, all members of the crew have made great contribution to the success of the flight.
Responding to the question many asked ‘What makes all women flight special’?, Amsale said even through it was a special operation, the standard is one and the same. “It is crystal clear that many women are living with a lot of challenges. As the majority of them are economically weak, they need various assistance. If we provide assistance to few of them, Enat Bank is supporting those with small amount of income. For this to happen, we are willing to deposit some amount of money thereby assisting the effort made by the Bank. Thus, I hope together, we can make a difference and change the life of young girls’ citizenry.
“I wish to make a flight having big air planes. Advancing young girls and women, she said, they have to work hard until they get two ends meet. Being a women cannot prohibit from doing anything. They have to do away with negative outlooks. Yes, this has happened but I am a women. Because I have big social responsibility, I have tried to go to schools to encourage girls to take over our position. Now, we are few pilots in number. The first priority of women should be education. Though education is not a sole way to success, it could be regarded as a platform towards achievement and progress. When somebody tries to discourage their ability, women and girls have to reject it. Everything is possible and we do show people in practice.
My family has been contributing a lot to help me reach where I am now. There is no gender disparity in our family. We are four in number, but we are treated equally. And now all of us are found in a better position. Indeed, my role models are my families.
Another woman the writer approached for comment was Biruktawit Mesafint. She is working as a cabin crew supervisor of the the flight operation fully run by women crew. The unique feature of the atmosphere made the flight peculiar. Most of the guests of honour were women. It was a wonderful flight. “I am a mother of one. I wish I could succeed in all the plan I have. I need to give every assistance to my daughter to empower her. Of course, being a mother and running the business on which I am assigned is very stiff and challenging. But my husband has great contribution to the effort I exert to be competent in my job.
Aziza Mohammed is currently working as a director of human resource management department of the Ethiopian Airlines. She said, “Ethiopian Airlines is a gender sensitive institution that empowers women through preparing strategic plan. We design various programmes and currently coach a number of people to be well empowered.
Of the total management members of the Ethiopian Airlines, 18 per cent are found in leadership position. It means, there are strong women behind the success of a every men. However, this is not an end. We will do the same until they reach 50 per cent. A flight is measured by take-off and landing. Amsale’s landing and take-off is very smooth. She deserved to be promoted to higher flight operator. She is capable enough to do that, indeed.
Enat Bank Board Chairperson Meaza Ashenafi said that it is a milestone and a perfect course for celebration. It symbolizes the possibility of what we have over the past decades. We salute your hard work and dedication. Thank you for your courage; this is a great way of showing that the time is not to turn in favour of women. We appreciate them because they managed to do this in addition to their role mothers, wives, sisters and daughters with all attainment responsibilities. It is easy to imagine your hectic aspect to do this. We also congratulate the Ethiopian Airlines because it has created great chance for women.
Government Communications Affairs Office Head Getachew Reda said that first and for most success is about having a courage to stone the labels. Of course, what the performance of Captain Amsale and her colleagues made declare is that not only they have the courage and ambition to stone labels, they actually or almost literally stone the labels. So for us it is not an individual achievement something we celebrate because it reflects the good working environment and management attitude of the Ethiopian Airlines or the government that owns of Ethiopian Airlines.
This is not an achievement of an individual pilot or a company, rather it is an achievement of the entire society and a country at a larger scale, she said.
First Lady Roman Tesfaye said that our political system is women friendly. Thus, women in Ethiopia should utilize the opportunity created to shine out. For instance, the government has been exerting effort to fill 50 and 40 per cent of state and House of Peoples Representatives by women respectively.
The other point I want to raise here is, our male counterparts should share household chores with their wives, daughters and sisters to empower women in all aspects and provide them with ample opportunity to participate in various social, economic and political spheres. Clearly, we have to nurture and treat our sons and daughters equally through providing them with training, participatory approaches and getting them involved in a range of innovative, creativity and entrepreneurial aspects. In addition to this, men especially fathers of a girl baby should spend much of their time to empower the latter, Roman underscored.