Uganda is currently celebrating two of her female pilots; Vernita Kayiwa and Tina Drazu. Poised to be the first Ugandan women to fly the wide body Airbus A330, the two are said to be most qualified, among the Country’s female pilots.
According to a twitter statement on the Uganda Professional Pilots’ Association handle; “Vernita and Tina have gone further in their civilian flying careers than any Ugandan women ever, no mean feat and worth celebrating.”
The gender barrier has affected aviation for long and is unfortunately still one of those male dominated industries globally. Even in the 21st century today, only about 5% of airline transport pilots in the world are female.
For decades, women have mostly been seen and trusted with in-flight services while men take the cockpits. However, Uganda’s story is different and one that gives hope to the girl child. 10% of the pilots at Uganda airlines are women.
None-the-less, the percentage is still small, a clear sign that the aviation industry is non progressive towards gender balance. So then why should we be proud that Uganda Airlines was re-established in 2019 as a national carrier after the unfortunate collapse of the original airline in 2001 and the privately owned Air Uganda in 2014?
Without a doubt, the revival of the airline will inspire a bump in Uganda’s gross domestic product and the main exports out of Uganda will be boosted tremendously by a more well-organized direct air transport service out of Entebbe.
National airlines are Key; they are intended to contribute to a country both economically and socially. Hence, they usually take routes that are not economically viable but are important for social connectivity and with a trickle-down effect in mind.
Apart from the fact that Uganda airlines brings jobs, currently employing 50 pilots with about 42 being Ugandan, five among this elite group, are Ugandan women.
Positive role models like Vernita Kayiwa and Tina Drazu who are worth celebrating will go down in our Country’s history as the first Ugandan women to fly the wide body Airbus A330 in Uganda. Just like our own Sarah Nyendwoha Ntiro, the first woman university graduate in east and central Africa, they will be remembered.
Stories of female local role models are critical in empowering the girl child to know they can do better for themselves. These are people with names from clans they know and relate too, people from towns and villages they too probably come from.
The presence of such role models in a country makes it possible for others to dream, especially since the lack of motivation and role models has been cited as one of the causes why Uganda and the world at large still has a small number of female pilots.
Today, Uganda Professional Pilots’ Association invites all Ugandans and the world to celebrate Vernita Kayiwa and Tina Drazu for their achievement. Because of these two ladies, more girls could start visualizing themselves in a cockpit. The celebration is also extended to the revival of Uganda airlines, which has given a chance to Ugandans to live their dream of being part of the aviation professionals.
Uganda airlines’ new 6 to 12 hours route network will connect destinations like; Dubai, Mumbai, London and Guangzhou, that represent Uganda’s largest import and export markets. China is a particularly popular source for electronics and manufactured goods with India playing a big role in providing Pharmaceuticals.
A local air transport network necessitates an accessible ground infrastructure to support it. Kabale International Airport construction work is at 45% and will handle large cargo planes and support the oil sector construction.
According to a UCAA (Uganda Civil Aviation Authority) master plan, airports at Arua, Kasese, Pakuba and Kabale will be further developed with Kabale becoming an international airport. The market is way too undersized and tremendously expensive, subjugated and customized for tourists who can match price with their competitive currencies.
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