“Women Cannot Be What They Cannot See”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the winners of the inaugural IATA Diversity & Inclusion Awards, sponsored by Qatar Airways:

  • Inspirational Role Model: Christine Ourmières-Widener, CEO, Flybe
  • High Flyer Award: Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo, Founder and President, Young African Aviation Professional Association (YAAPA)
  • Diversity & Inclusion Team: Air New Zealand

Nominations for the awards were adjudicated by a panel of four judges: Angela Gittens, Director General, Airports Council International; Gloria Guevara, President and CEO, World Travel and Tourism Council; Mark Pilling, Vice President Publishing and Conferences, Flightglobal and Karen Walker, Editor-in-Chief, Air Transport World.

Upon receiving the Award, Christine Ourmières-Widener said, “Young women cannot be what they cannot see and they need to see more aspirational role models”. She also called the industry leaders to work together to lead the industry into a fully diverse future.

The second winner was Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo, Founder and President of the Young Aviation Professional Association who received the High Flyer Award. In her moving acceptance speech, she talked about the role education plays in Africa and the need to focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She also touched on her personal role of getting an education in English, which is not common in Cameroon. Education is a getaway to a better future which many children and young people in Africa cannot afford to have.

The final winner was Air New Zealand which received the award in the ‘Diversity & Inclusion Team category’. Christopher Luxon, Air New Zealand’s CEO, who collected the award on behalf of the airline’s 12,500 staff, said that “Diversity and inclusion should be at the heart of the company’s strategy but also because it was the right thing to do”. He urged all airlines to focus on women as a starting point to build diverse and inclusive organizations, where overcoming the unconscious bias is key.

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