Fact: Ugandan Women Are Changing The Face of Aviation in Africa

Uganda has one of the lowest rates of women pilots in the world. This gender barrier has affected aviation for a long time and is unfortunately still one of those male-dominated industries in Africa. Perhaps because growing up, many African women aren’t taught to work on machines or to take apart a toaster and think about how things work technically. When you’re a pilot, your primary relationship is with a machine — a piece of equipment.

But of late, it appears that Ugandan women are correcting this trend and are giving hope to the girl child. 

Recently, Uganda celebrated its two female pilots; Vernita Kayiwa and Tina Drazu who became the first Ugandan women to fly the wide-body Airbus A330. The two are said to be the most qualified among the Country’s female pilots.  

Another woman who is taking the lead in the aviation industry in Uganda is Monica Nabakooza, a licensed Commercial pilot who is learning to fly a multi-engine aircraft while inspiring young women who would like to take up a career in the male-dominated industry.

Monica (right)

“There is nothing like this is for men and this is for women. I want to inspire you that you can do it, you can do anything. You can become an engineer; you can become a pilot like me or those many other jobs that people think are for me”

said Monica.

One of the youngsters that Monica is helping is Cecilliah Kayes, a 10-year-old who is taking her first flight in what she hopes is takeoff for a career in conquering the skies.

Monica and student
Monica and Cecilliah in a flight training session.

“I thank Captain Monica because she has flown me up in the sky. I had never been up in the sky. I really thank her and now my dreams will come true because of Captain Monica,” young Cecilliah expressed.

More women are joining the industry but the idea of ladies in the cockpit still startles many despite the fact that over the years, the number of female aviators onboard has increased. While the demand is growing, statistics show that women account for just 9 percent of pilots globally.

“Long time ago it used to be only boys coming to flying school, ladies were not looked at as if they are confident enough and capable of flying airplanes but today with affirmative action in, we have found ladies capable of flying airplanes,” explained Chris Sentabile, a flight instructor. 

With over 250 hours logged, Monica’s dream is to serve with the police air wing.

However, young Ceciliah will have to wait until she is 17 – the minimum age requirement in Uganda – to enroll in pilot training.

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