Air transport sector growth presents significant opportunities for addressing global gender equality targets

​Australian pilot Emily Sidoti (left) was one of many women from around the world who contributed to the 2016 ICAO-IAWA Women in Aviation Photo Contest. As ICAO Secretary General Liu stresses in her #IWD2017 statement, only 3% of commercial pilots globally today are women, and fewer than 5% of airline CEOs. But with aviation projecting the need for hundreds of thousands of new pilots, controllers and maintenance professionals as it doubles its capacity in the coming decades, the global sector stands poised to make large gender equality inroads going forward.

Montréal, 8 March 2017 – Women’s participation in the aviation sector must improve in order to ensure the sustainable management of global air traffic, remarked ICAO’s first female Secretary General, Dr. Fang Liu, on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

“Our sector is very dynamic and technically challenging, but more importantly it is presently faced with rapidly expanding flight volumes and an aging workforce of pilots, air traffic controllers, maintenance specialists and other technical professionals,” Dr. Liu explained. “These factors combined create a significant number of opportunities for the many young girls and women globally seeking rewarding and lifelong professions in aviation.”

Noting that the UN theme for International Women’s Day in 2017 is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”, the Secretary General added that despite a great deal of progress, much work in this regard remains to be done.

“Only 3% of commercial pilots globally are women. Furthermore, the percentage of women serving as airline CEOs is currently fewer than 5%. When one considers how important leadership examples are as role models for future generations, it is especially vital that greater gender equality in aviation be pro-actively pursued and expedited by all stakeholders in the global aviation community. This is a responsibility shared between governments, industry partners and ICAO.”

Guided by the resolution on gender equality adopted by its 39th Session of the Assembly, ICAO is deploying an array of initiatives in order to remove barriers to women’s entry into aviation. An updated Gender Equality Programme will be implemented, outlining the principles, strategies and actions which will be pursued to intensify the collective efforts for gender equality throughout the global aviation sector. 

ICAO launched a portal where users can browse profiles of ICAO women – who comprise 30% of its professional staff – and discover some of the exciting careers available to women within the UN agency for aviation and the valuable contribution they make to its programmes and projects. It is also enhancing its global cooperation with universities and other UN organizations which share the common need to encourage girls and women to pursue academic studies in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

And for 8 March specifically, ICAO will also be hosting a special thematic workshop on the role of women in the changing workplace.

“There remain some very long and very meaningful strides to be taken toward recognizing the tremendous potential and contributions of women to our world, and to the modern workplace,” Secretary General Liu noted. “We can no longer afford to delay this process, and the aviation sector stands poised to lead the way.”

ICAO’s Women in Aviation portal can be accessed at:

It’s #IWD2017 YouTube video can be viewed at:


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About ICAO

A specialized agency of the United Nations, ICAO was created in 1944 to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world. It sets standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency, capacity and environmental protection, amongst many other priorities. The Organization serves as the forum for cooperation in all fields of civil aviation among its 191 Member States.

ICAO's Women in Aviation Portal





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