Chairperson of the South African Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industry Association (AMD) Florence Musengi encourages women and girls to consider careers in the aerospace industry. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

TSHWANE - The South African Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industry Association (AMD) is happy with the levels of interest amongst South African women and girls who want to take up careers in the aviation sector, Chairperson Florence Musengi said on Thursday.

"Today we were graced with the presence of our Minister of Defence, Honourable Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula - who launched the South African Women in Defence Association, where all women in defence have to come together to assist one another," said Musengi.

She was speaking to the African News Agency at the ongoing Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition (AAD2018). 

"Women can assist one another in terms of skills development, and the acquisition of skills and technology.

"The good thing about the launch that we did today is to uplift women in the defence industry, both in private sector, in government and also [women] in uniform."

Numerous learners have been touring the AAD2018 in the capital Pretoria, and Musengi said there has been notable interest from female pupils - but they need to pass mathematics and science.

"In the aerospace industry, we are encouraging the young women to take maths and science seriously so that they can join after finishing university. They can join the aviation industry, defence and aerospace. There is no limitation," she said.

"We are encouraging young women.  What we will do as SAWID is to make sure that we mentor young women, we technically coach them, tell them all the skills that they need to prepare for themselves [to] join the industry."

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She said at the moment, the SAWID programme focuses only on women and girls in South Africa.

The five-day AAD is described by the South African National Defence Force as "the largest defence and aerospace exhibition in Africa and the only one of its kind, boasting the successful format of a combined exhibition of air, sea and land technologies, a static aircraft display and an air show".

President Cyril Ramaphosa officially opened the aviation extravaganza on Wednesday, paying tribute to the South African defence industry for creating jobs and bringing in foreign currency.

- African News Agency (ANA)