October 11th marked UN’s International Day of the Girl, a day aimed at highlighting and addressing the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights, including access to education. The theme, “With Her: A Skilled Girl Force” is aimed at focusing resources on creating opportunities for girls to attain skills that make them employable. Women in Aviation International designated October 13th as “Girls in Aviation Day” to promote and encourage girls to explore careers in the filed of aviation.
The Proposed Soroptimist Club Esperance merged the celebration of these two important days and hosted a “Girls in Aviation” event, with the kind assistance of the University of Trinidad and Tobago Aviation Campus, Retired Captain Wendy Yawching and Bristow Caribbean Limited. Captain Yawching gave a moving and awe-inspiring motivational talk about her life and the path she forged in becoming the first female Captain at Caribbean Airlines.
Historically, women have been significantly under-represented in the STEM sector; typically making up only 10-20% of the global workforce. This impacts women in a very practical sense, by depriving them of rewarding and potentially lucrative careers. We sought to change perceptions, attitudes and cultural stereotypes towards women in aviation and promote visibility of women in leadership positions in the aviation sector in Trinidad.
Twenty girls from rural areas in Trinidad attended the event and were treated to fun-filled day at the Camden Campus of UTT and Bristow’s operations at Piarco. The girls also had the opportunity to speak with female students who are currently pursuing the BSc programme in Aircraft Maintenance and Management and met with UTT President Professor Sarim Al-Zubaidi, who himself is a recreational pilot, with published research in the filed of Aviation.
The students spent the afternoon at Bristow Caribbean’s Trinidad operations, where they learned about the commercial side of the aviation industry. Bristow is the largest industrial aviation service provider in Trinidad and its helicopter services are utilised by all major players in Trinidad’s oil and gas industry.
Pilots, engineers and managerial personnel from Bristow spent the afternoon giving the girls a tour, answering questions and providing the young ladies with a wealth of information regarding careers in the aviation field.
The project involved:-
1) Contacting UTT, Bristow and Captain Wendy Yawching,
2) Inviting students from girls’ secondary schools,
3) Coordinating the programme of events for the day,
4) Arranging transportation to the various venues, UTT’s Camden (Aviation) Campus and Bristow (Piarco,)
5) Providing lunch and refreshments,
6) Acquiring a photographer and videographer,
7) Developing and distributing an “exit survey” for the students
8) Writing articles for the media, Facebook and website.
Our goal was to make girls aware of the careers available in aviation and inspire them to consider employment in these areas. This project sought to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals of (Goal 4) QUALITY EDUCATION and (Goal 5) GENDER EQUALITY. This fulfilled the SIGBI aims of Educate, Enable and Empower.
Comments from the girls included:-
“WOW….this is amazing!’
“I’ve changed my mind…I don’t want to be a doctor anymore…I want to be a pilot.”
“Nobody believes me when I tell them I want to be a pilot, but after meeting Captain Yaw Ching I know it’s not just a dream.”
Behind the Scenes with the Soroptimists
We EDUCATE, EMPOWER & ENABLE girls to find their dream, & have fun doing it!