It’s been two years since an all-female crew landed a plane in a country they were not even allowed to drive in.
It’s also International Women’s Day today, March 8, and so what better day is there to once again, celebrate the achievement of this team as well as women everywhere.
The first all-female pilot crew for Royal Brunei Airlines touched down in Saudi Arabia in 2016, a country at the time where women were not allowed to even drive a car.
This meant once the flight crew landed, they’d have risked arrest if they attempted to drive a vehicle on the nation’s roads.
Captain Sharifah Czarena Surainy Syed Hashim, Senior First Officer Dk Nadiah Pg Khashiem and Senior First Officer Sariana Nordin flew flight BI081 to Jeddah in the Middle Eastern country.
As well as demonstrating the airline’s commitment to get more women into the industry, the milestone flight was made to mark Brunei’s National Day on February 23, which celebrates the country’s independence.
The groundbreaking moment came three years after Captain Sharifa Czarena Surainy became the first female captain of a flag carrier in southeast Asia.
In 2012, she told The Brunei Times:
Being a pilot, people normally see it as being a male dominant occupation.
As a woman, a Bruneian woman, it’s such a great achievement. It’s really showing the younger generation or the girls especially that whatever they dream of, they can achieve it.
It’s women like Captain Sharifa we need to salute and look to for inspiration in the battle for equality which is still ongoing.
Yet even in the two years which have passed since this memorable flight, things have changed for the better.
In Saudi Arabia for example, at the end of last year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made several societal reforms, including lifting the driving ban on women.
Women in the country no longer need permission from a legal guardian to get a licence and will not need a guardian in the car when they do drive.
Proud be be one of only 5% of Female Pilots in the UK and one of the very few Female Pilots in my airline to fly the Dreamliner. Let’s hope we can break down gender barriers in the professional world and encourage youngsters to enter the profession #InternationalWomenDay2018 pic.twitter.com/OrmMYEe04X
— Rachel (@rachelthepilot) March 8, 2018
— Abby (@AbigailSmart27) March 8, 2018
Happy #InternationalWomenDay2018 !! Time to go out and celebrate the cool women in your life! My thoughts today go out to my sisters, my mother and my badass female friends who have helped shape me into the woman I am today!?♀️✨
— Wiishu (@Wiishu) March 8, 2018
We’ve also witnessed cultural phenomenons such as Wonder Woman, a film which placed a female superhero right at the heart of the story. inspiring millions of young girls across the world. The lead, Gal Gadot, is an Israeli – another Middle Eastern country.
Several movements such as Time’s Up and #MeToo are also having a huge impact, emphasising the importance of standing up for women in the workplace.
You can watch the trailer for Wonder Woman here:
[ooyala player_id=”5df2ff5a35d24237905833bd032cd5d8″ width=”undefined” height=”undefined” pcode=”twa2oyOnjiGwU8-cvdRQbrVTiR2l” code=”x1cHEzZTE6GDZz89VijvIzCg5y6GjWoS”]
Now, more than ever, women and their achievements are arguably taking great strides within society, but there’s still work to do to achieve equality.
And so, International Women’s Day shouldn’t just be about girl power but about everyone standing together and driving for societal change to make the world a better and more equal place.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.