The quest for gender equality at ATNS (Air Traffic and Navigation Services) has seen 13 women earn Aviation Management Development Programme certificates – a first on the continent.
The programme saw the women from nationwide ATNS operations gather at the Wits Professional Development Hub in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, for nine months of intensive study.
The programme is an integral part of ATNS’ overall women’s development programme. It is a platform aimed specifically at those with no aviation qualifications to better their skills, knowledge and competency. The programme stems from an August, 2011, decision by the ATNS board to accelerate and contribute to development of women across the aviation sphere.
Zuki Sgelem, an engineering technician at OR Tambo International, was one of the successful candidates. She said the course took her out of her comfort zone after 15 years with ATNS.
“It was challenging but has opened new doors.”
Kalyvani Chetty, a principal air traffic controller at King Shaka International, was one of two students who earned distinctions. She initially saw the distance factor as an obstacle but knuckled down and was suitably rewarded.
The 13 strong group were called pioneers by Dr Tim Hutton, head of business development at Wits Enterprise.
“You have been part of a ground-breaking programme, a first step in taking South Africa and the rest of Africa to another level of aviation innovation.”
His view was echoed by ATNS senior project manager Brenda Mashika who pointed out the government-owned company responsible for air traffic safety was determined to prove aviation careers were not gender specific.