All-Female Ethiopian Flight Crew Aims to Inspire

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By Salem Solomon, Eden Geremew, Habtamu Seyoum
March 09, 2020

All-Female Ethiopian Flight Crew Aims to Inspire By Salem Solomon, Eden Geremew, Habtamu Seyoum March 09, 2020 10:44 AM An all-female flight crew from Ethiopian Airlines celebrates at Washington Dulles International Airport after arriving from Addis Ababa, March 8, 2020 (Eden Geremew/VOA) An all-female flight crew from Ethiopian Airlines celebrates at Washington Dulles International Airport after arriving from Addis Ababa, March 8, 2020 (Eden Geremew/VOA)

WASHINGTON – To celebrate International Women’s Day, an all-female flight crew from Ethiopian Airlines flew from Addis Ababa to Washington D.C. The flight marked the sixth consecutive year the airline has made the symbolically important flight with a female crew.

“Ethiopian Airlines aims to show African girls that there are no professions reserved for men only and inspire them to have no limits to their dream of becoming anything they set their hearts to,” said Rahel Assefa, marketing vice president for the airline. “In short, as we say back home at Ethiopian, on this day we fly to inspire.”

Ethiopian Airlines female pilots prepare the plane before takeoff at Bole international airport in the capital Addis Ababa,…
FILE – Ethiopian Airlines female pilots prepare the plane before takeoff at Bole international airport in the capital Addis Ababa, Nov. 19, 2015.

The largest airline in Africa has made hiring women a priority and said 40% of its employees are female including 32% of management positions. The airline has female pilots, aircraft technicians, engineers, flight dispatchers, load controllers and ramp operators.

Rahel said too often on the African continent girls are taught that their only worth is to be married and live a domestic life.

“When their brothers are sent off to schools, girls are mostly held back at home, to help out as well as groomed on how to be a good wife, a good mother, a good homemaker,” she said. “Much work is needed to educate parents and communities in general, that their daughters can be anything and everything their sons can.”

Ethiopian Airlines' first female captain Amsale Gualu waits to be cleared to board before takeoff at Bole international airport…
FILE – Ethiopian Airlines’ first female captain Amsale Gualu waits to be cleared to board before takeoff at Bole international airport in the capital Addis Ababa, Nov. 18, 2015.

Captain Amsale Gualu, who piloted the transatlantic flight, became the first female captain in Ethiopian history in 2010. She said it is important for women to support one another in fields whether they are underrepresented.

“The main thing is networking. Women should have a connection among one another and exchange ideas,” she told VOA’s Amharic service. “The other thing is supporting each other. For example when we fly with an all-female crew, even when there are standard procedures, there are things that make you happy.”

Amsale said at the time of the first all-female flight in 2015, there were only eight female pilots at the airline. Today, she said, there are 20 with another 24 training in aviation school.

“The change has come. Women support each other, we have our own groups and we show that it is possible. And by supporting each other, showing that it is achievable is our responsibility,” she said.

‘Educate a woman, educate a nation’

Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega said the country’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has made it a priority to promote women to positions of power. His cabinet is made up of 50% women and the country now has a female president and chief justice of the supreme court.

“There’s an African proverb that says, ‘if you educate a man, you educate one person. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation,’” Fitsum said.

He added that empowering women is a boost to the nation’s economy.

Ethiopian Airlines cabin crew members wait to get onboard the plane before takeoff at Bole international airport in the capital…
FILE – Ethiopian Airlines cabin crew members wait to get onboard the plane before takeoff at Bole international airport in the capital Addis Ababa, Nov. 18, 2015.

“When half of the population is empowered with higher education and actively engaging in the workforce in the formal economy, this accelerates technological innovation, productivity and economic prosperity, which in turn will have a far-reaching multiplier effect on families, communities and the entire nation,” he said.

Hostess and team leader on the flight Bizuayehu Yilma said there was a special feeling on board. She hopes it inspires women worldwide.

“Any woman can reach any position she aspires to reach,” she said. “This is not charity but the duty or the responsibility of all. Everyone should support us. This is a show of our strength and how we can stand on equal footing. So I think that we have given a big education to all.”

This story originated in the Africa Division with reporting contributions by VOA Amharic Service’s Habtamu Seyoum and Eden Geremew.

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5 Responses to All-Female Ethiopian Flight Crew Aims to Inspire

  1. Proud of Ethiopia!!!!

    bayewkasa
    March 10, 2020 at 3:27 am
    Reply

  2. All-Female Ethiopian Flight Crew!!! You hear me? All-Female Ethiopian Flight Crew!!! How many times did I tell you about the untapped capabilities of glorious women? A million times!!! The scenario I want to see, read and hear about is something that will send misogynists into futile bunkers. He comes home and asks for dinner and she still working long hours in her office ten miles away from home on her AI project. The answer will be ‘you can make your own dinner, hon! There is a smart small kitchen appliance that I just invented on the counter. Toss in the ingredients in there, select the recipe of your favorite food and push the start button’. No that is not Thermomix but her new invention. He put the ingredients inside the new AI appliance but he cannot locate the start button which it took him more than five minutes to find it. It took just under ten minutes for the new smart appliance the wife invented to finish the whole process and dinner was served. You think there are none of our women trailblazing in the AI? Don’t you dare say that to our genius daughters Timnit bint Gebru and Rediet bint Abebe. Don’t even think about it!!! What music to my ears!!! What music!!!! More news like this please!!!!!

    Ittu Aba Farda
    March 11, 2020 at 1:09 am
    Reply

  3. I am inspired and very proud of the All-Female Ethiopian Flight Crew. I am always proud of Ethiopians, andL even more so of Ethiopian women of their deep sensitivity a kindness, their great wisdom, their digntity, their sense of family, and their great beauty both physical and spiritual. Thank you Capitain Amsale and every Membe of your Flight Crew. Love Ethiopian. Tecola

    Tecola. W Hagos
    March 11, 2020 at 3:37 am
    Reply

  4. Another exciting news from the old country. There is a new sheriff in town, yo’ll. It is about the new attorney general and her name is Adanech bint Abebe. Now the loafing men will be shown how legal matters are supposed to be handled. I heard that her loafing predecessors have left behind a mountain cases that never seen a day in court just growing mold in the archives. She will need to wear face masks when looking into those sticky archives. Go get’em tigress!!!

    Ittu Aba Farda
    March 11, 2020 at 11:26 am
    Reply

  5. Ethiopian Airlines has ALWAYS been the most progressive airline, ever since it was created on 21 December 1945.

    The formation of ALL FEMALE Crew Members is TRUELY the EPITOME of Ethiopian Airlines greatness, which indeed reflects the inherent potentiality of ETHIOPIA ITSELF

    In the above context, please forgive me in being worried that the potential tendency that we are witnessing in the fragmentation of ETHIOPIA ITSELF would be the saddest development that Ethiopia is indulging into CLASSICAL TRAGEDY. In that context, the Ethiopian Airlines extraordinary success has A SPECIAL meaning and can help to glue the Ancient Country Ethiopia together for socio-economic development of the country in PEACE and be an example in the overall image of what CAN BE DONE IN OUR DEAR AFRICA.

    I STOP here with a SALUTE to the entire Ethiopian Airline Organization.

    rezen
    March 11, 2020 at 8:01 pm
    Reply

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