Teneille Craig

Refilwe Ledwaba

Teneille Craig
Refilwe Ledwaba

Refilwe Ledwaba

PILOT, FOUNDER, RECORD BREAKER

To encourage girls to choose STEM careers and hobbies on the continent, Refilwe Ledwaba—the first Black woman to fly for the South African Police Service—has employed an engaging and exhilarating way to empower them. Flight school. Founding the Girl Fly Programme in Africa foundation, this history-making pilot is giving young girls (about 100 14-18 year olds from South Africa and Botswana) the tools to pursue successful careers in science and aviation. "I want the girls to be successful," she told BBC. "Not necessarily to choose to become pilots but to become confident young women who can contribute to society, our economy and give back to our communities."

It’s important work. Women make up just 5 percent of the world’s pilots, but 50 percent of the world’s population, according to the BBC and data compiled by the International Society of Women Airline Pilots. "It's important that we're not only focusing on aviation and space but STEM as a whole because this will set these girls to be very competitive for future jobs. Perhaps they will go back or help their communities to break their cycle of poverty.”