Pandemic recovery presents opportunities for addressing gender imbalances in air transport

MONTREAL – ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu addressed the members of the Women in Aviation International’s India Chapter on 8 January 2021, providing introductory remarks to its virtual meeting on “Connecting the dots – Recovery for aviation, tourism and hospitality”.

The Secretary General’s comments focused mainly on the significant gender equality challenges still facing the air transport sector, and the opportunity to address current imbalances as the sector pivots and recovers from COVID-19.

“While it is becoming more common to see women in positions of power and prominence, in both the public and private sectors, we still remain under-represented in most professional, leadership, and decision-making categories,” Dr. Liu noted. “In the aviation sector more specifically, which is highly technical and specialized, there’s still lots of work ahead to address the gender gap – even as we continue to respond to a global pandemic.”

Dr. Liu noted that world leaders have long recognized that human rights, including women’s rights, are of foundational importance to broader collective and global efforts for sustainable development.

She emphasized that the UN’s Agenda 2030 for sustainable development reflects this by featuring a suitably prominent, comprehensive, and cross-cutting commitment to gender equality, and that in global air transport the significant impacts now being seen sector wide could provide excellent opportunities for initiative and advancement, especially given the incredible era of innovation that has begun to transform our expectations for global and personal mobility.

“Women in aviation must be prepared and confident, and ready to bring their talents and ideas to the forefront to help lead the air transport, tourism, and hospitality sectors to the new futures which await them,” the Secretary General said.

“As medical conditions permit, we must work to accelerate the sector’s recovery in every world region, and to bring prosperity and sustainability back to the countries and populations who rely on air transport and tourism for their basic economic survival.”

Highlighting that the country has suffered significant 50 and 60 per cent downturns in domestic and international operations respectively, Dr. Liu concluded her remarks by encouraging women in aviation in India to “aspire to greater heights, and to set no limits for yourselves in terms of your future challenges and ambitions.”

The meeting was also attended by the Permanent Representative of India to ICAO, Dr. Shefali Juneja, and senior officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation of India.