Th­esky’sthe­limit

Malawi Air­lines makes his­tory with an all-fe­male op­er­ated flight

ChinAfrica - - Africa Report - By Ed­win Nyirongo

March in Malawi was a sig­nif­i­cant time for women. In a month that tra­di­tion­ally cel­e­brates the In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day (IWD), glass ceil­ings were be­ing shat­tered.

Malawi Air­lines made his­tory with an all-fe­male op­er­ated and sup­ported flight. The com­pany cel­e­brated IWD in style and bold­ness as an all-women crew took to the skies in a Bom­bardier Q400 flown from Blan­tyre in Malawi to Dar es Salaam in Tan­za­nia, with a stopover at Ka­muzu In­ter­na­tional Air­port (KIA) in Malawi.

Co-pi­lots, Cap­tain Yolanda Ndala Kaunda and First Of­fi­cer Lusekelo Mweni­fumbo, were given red-car­pet treat­ment on their ar­rival in KIA where they were greeted by Malawi’s First Lady Gertrude Mutharika, and Mary Chilima, wife of Malaw­ian Vice Pres­i­dent Sau­los Chilima. The all-fe­male flight and at­ten­dant team were wel­comed with gifts and words of en­cour­age­ment at a spe­cial re­cep­tion given in recog­ni­tion of the flight rep­re­sent­ing Malawi as a sym­bol of women’s em­pow­er­ment.

Malawi Air­lines’ Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer Joseph Josiah said his­tory had been made.

“Yes, the event on March 16th was the first of its kind by Malawi Air­lines. It was the first time a flight was op­er­ated by an all-women team,” said Josiah. He said the com­pany does not have a stand-alone pol­icy on gen­der, but that gen­der is stream­lined within its poli­cies in re­cruit­ment, man­age­ment and work­place.

“We are an equal op­por­tu­nity com­pany, as such we strive to achieve gen­der in­clu­sive­ness at all lev­els of our op­er­a­tions,” he said.

Mweni­fumbo said her teacher in­stilled con­fi­dence in fe­male stu­dents by teach­ing them that they could en­ter and thrive in male-dom­i­nated fields. In­spi­ra­tion was given to en­gage in what were largely re­garded as male-only ter­ri­to­ries if they re­mained com­mit­ted and ded­i­cated.

How­ever, Mweni­fumbo said her fa­ther was the one who in­tro­duced her to the idea of hav­ing a ca­reer in avi­a­tion.

“My fa­ther al­ways wanted me to be a pilot. When he asked me whether I wanted to try to fly a plane, I was sur­prised. I then cu­ri­ously started read­ing aero­dy­nam­ics just to make sure that those lit­tle planes I saw on many web­sites that had flight school names on their pa­thetic look­ing rud­ders were not go­ing to make my life tough when I en­rolled for train­ing one day,” she added.

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