In a powerful statement to champion the cause of women and give them flight, Social Access Communications, in collaboration with the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development and Hindi entertainment channel Colors, has launched ‘WE! Women Empower.’ It is an initiative by, of and for the girls and women of India, to attempt a first-of-its-kind, never done before, circumnavigation around the planet in a microlight, by a mother-daughter duo.
The feat, already termed as an extraordinary attempt of exemplary courage, mental agility and one-of-its-kind aerosport adventure, will attempt a world record. It will fly across 21 countries, taking the message of women empowerment, while spear-heading a unique crowd-funding campaign for the `WE! Udaan Scholarship’ to champion, enable and empower under-privileged Indian girls across India who want to fly.
Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister of Women and Child Development, in a congratulatory message to the launch event, said, “Flight is one of the best symbols of liberation and I am happy to say that Indian women have demonstrated that there is no glass ceiling in the sky time and time again. As many as 11 per cent of our pilots are women, while a country like the US has only three per cent. ”
Gandhi further added, “I am delighted that Audrey Maben, a gifted microlight pilot, and India's first microlight flying instructor, who is also mother of three, have decided to undertake this brave mission of circumnavigating our beautiful planet in a tiny plane to raise funds for the training of underprivileged girls in aviation. I urge all of India to fly with Maben and with Amy, to cheer her on and contribute generously to the “WE! Udaan Scholarship fund."
While to date no woman pilot has ever flown in a microlight around the globe, Mysuru-based and India’s first female microlight flying instructor, teacher and mother, Deepika Maben, and her 19-year-old daughter, Amy Mehta will attempt the enviable journey on February 18, 2018. With the country cheering her dare-devil spirit to circumnavigate the planet, they will raise awareness for the scholarship fund and achieve the highest flying honour for Indian women. A first on many fronts for India.
Waving a green flag to Maben and Mehta’s brave endeavour, Raj Nayak, COO, Viacom18, said, “Colors is extremely proud to be partnering with such an innovative, courageous and empowering cause. This is going to be such a great accomplishment for us Indians, and even a greater feat for women everywhere. It’s so humbling to see these two women defy all rules and limitations to achieve the unthinkable. This association between Colors and WE! is an effort to shape and mould discussions around inspiring and motivating women to come out of their boundaries and show the world what they are capable of. While we spread this message through our platform, I urge more and more women to break the shackles of the society and spread their wings to fly. A big thank you to Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao movement and Ministry of Women and Child Development for having lent their support to this initiative as I strongly believe that together we will be able to enhance the lives of our women.”
Attempting an act way beyond her peers, Maben took to the skies as a young NCC Cadet at the age of 15. Winning a national competition, the All India Best Girl Glider Pilot in 1993- 94, she decided to pursue gliding by enrolling into the IIT Kanpur Gliding Centre and thereafter obtained her first glider pilots licence. She then went on to obtain a microlight pilots licence and set a national flying record by participating in the Air Race India 2003. Besides being the only woman to fly as pilot-in-command during the race, she covered a distance of 2,400 kms in five days from Bangalore to Nagpur and back – solo in a microlight. A feat established by The Aeroclub of India and listed in the Limca Book of Records. In 2007, Maben went on to become the country’s first woman flight instructor.
A student of Baldwin Girls High School (1991) and Jyoti Nivas (1996), Maben set up `I Can,’ a school for alternative holistic education in 2008, while continuing to pursue her passion as an aerosport professional flying her own microlight planes as a hobby pilot.
To show your support and give flight to India’s daughters and their dreams of flying, people can donate to the `WE! Udaan Scholarship’. Colors`WE!. Women Empower has been conceived and initiated by Social Access Communication in collaboration with Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt of India and sponsored by the entertainment channel, Colors. The expedition is supported by the Indian Women’s Pilot Association (IWPA), Aerosource India, Aerotech FMS, Government Flying Training School (GFTS) and Navy Blue Foundation (NBF).