As part of events to mark this year’s International Women's Day (IWD 2020), the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) yesterday, 7 March 2020, organized “Career and Health Talks” for students of the Air Force Girls’ Comprehensive School (AFGCS) Abuja and the Air Force Girls’ Military School (AFGMS) Jos. The Talks, which were aimed at inspiring the students to break limitations and strive for greatness, are also part of the NAF’s efforts to foster sustainable support and empowerment of the girl child by supporting and celebrating the outstanding contributions of its female personnel.

Speaking during the event in Abuja, the Commandant AFGCS Abuja, Group Captain Hafsat Ali, said the talk was an initiative of the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, to uplift girls who would become future leaders in the Nation. She further stated that the event was an avenue for the students to meet some outstanding female personnel in various fields of the NAF such as Pilots, Regiment personnel, Doctors, Engineers, Nurses, Lawyers and others to discuss critical issues in career-selection with a view to preparing them to manage future challenges at home and work. She disclosed that the CAS, who, she said, is a strong advocate of gender inclusion, has opened up opportunities for female personnel in the NAF. She said this had resulted in the emergence of the first NAF female fixed-wing fighter pilot, Flying Officer Kafayat Sanni, and the first female combat helicopter pilot, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, as well as the first female Air Warrant Officer, Grace Garba, amongst other female “firsts” that had been recorded in the last 5 years.

Earlier in her remarks, the Assistant Director Social Media at the Directorate of Public Relations and Information, Wing Commander Rose Bello, noted that, under the current NAF leadership, there were no limits to what female personnel could aspire to become. She therefore encouraged the girls to continue to aspire in order to realize their dreams and make positive impacts in the society, whether they choose a career in the military or not.

In line with the IWD 2020 Theme: “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”, the students were exposed to series of lectures delivered by female personnel in various fields. These included: “Becoming a Pilot in the NAF: My Experience” by Flying Officer Oluwabunmi Ijelu, a NAF Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) pilot; “Health talk: Your Body and You”, delivered by Flying Officer (Dr) IbIela Amaso and Flight Lieutenant Esther Ajiboye; “Choosing a Career: What You Need to Know”, delivered by Flight Lieutenant (Barr) Antonia Egbujiobi. Also present to interact with the students were: Flight Lieutenant Nkemdilim Ofodile, a NAF Aerospace Engineer and Research Fellow who holds a PHD in Control Engineering and Flight Lieutenant Ayooluwa Filani, a NAF Intelligence Officer.

The programme in Jos was hosted by the Commandant AFGMS, Wing Commander Idowu Gbadebo, who urged the Junior Airwomen Women (JAW) to always seek to be the best at whatever they choose to do while striving to make a positive difference in the society. The event, which had the Commander 551 NAF Station Jos, Group Captain Yahaya Bashir, in attendance, featured lectures by 2 external resource persons; Mrs Rabi Dauda, who spoke on the topic “Girls’ Mentorship and Boys’ Respect for Women’s Rights” and Mrs Nike Daniels, who spoke on “The Role of the Girl Child”. Students at both locations, who were visibly excited at the opportunity afforded them, asked a range of questions and interacted freely with the female officers and airwomen as well as the external resource persons.

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