Montreal - Airports Council International (ACI) shares the exciting news that the first certified civilian female pilot from Afghanistan, Shaesta Waiz, took flight on 13 May 2017, beginning her solo flight around the world. As the youngest woman to attempt this journey, her goal is to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and aviation education to the next generation, in particular to girls and young women.

Dreams Soar, founded by Waiz in 2014, has joined forces with global partner, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and others to deliver a global outreach mission along the route. ACI is supporting Dreams Soar by helping to publicize this epic journey and by inviting airports, whether ACI Members or not, to welcome Waiz and to offer all assistance possible.

Leaving from Daytona Beach International Airport (KDAB), Waiz will make 30 stops on 5 continents, in 18 countries throughout a 90-day journey—covering a total of more than 25,000 miles. Waiz's journey can be followed on the Dreams Soar website, Facebook and Twitter.

The International Aviation Women's Association (IAWA), together with ACI and ICAO and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the first nonstop transatlantic flight by Charles Lindbergh and honour Waiz at the IAWA Connect event on 17 May 2017 at the ICAO Headquarters in Montreal, Canada. ACI's Director General, Angela Gittens, will have the pleasure of welcoming Waiz following opening remarks by ICAO and IAWA.

"I would like to congratulate Waiz on her dedication to promoting aviation education to the next generation, and in particular to women," said Gittens. "It is essential that airports have a deep talent pool from which to draw in order to ensure the sustainable growth of the industry. Ensuring that women see aviation as a productive career path goes a long way toward ensuring we have the people we need to successfully meet future demand.

"In late 2014, ACI and IAWA signed an affiliation agreement to work collaboratively on education, training and job opportunities by offering to their members ACI's robust suite of Global Training educational programmes at ACI Member rates. ACI provides IAWA with scholarships for the Airport Operations Diploma Programme (AODP) and the Airport Executive Leadership Programme (AELP).

"As part of a wider industry effort, ACI, in cooperation with ICAO and IATA, participates in the Young Aviation Professionals Programme. The selected candidates contribute to each organization's work programmes related to aviation safety, air navigation capacity and efficiency, air transport economics or aero-political issues, with attention to inter-relationships among ACI, ICAO and IATA. The programme is an excellent example of the type of solution that we should be looking for when it comes to attracting women to the aviation field. They need not only opportunities for building knowledge, but also positive mentorship experiences and, most importantly, developing a network of colleagues and potential employers."