Women, for centuries, have been taught to aspire to marriage and to make their life choices keeping in mind what is expected from them by society. They are told that they should aim to be successful, but in a way that does not overshadow the man. Like any other, our society preaches women to dress and sit in a certain way. They are bound by rules set in stone, holding them back from doing what their heart desires. But today, we are witnessing a transitional phase, both in the global arena as well as our own society. Women are being given more opportunities in education as well as employment and “women empowerment” has never seen better days. In the midst of all this is Khadeeja Ziyan Mohamed, an Aerodrome Controller who is a living example of these changes.
Even though her higher education has no correlation with aviation, she had always felt drawn to the industry. Similar to others, Ziyan has had to work every sweat to sit on the “hot seat”. As such, she had to go through the basic course to toughen her up for the job in Male’ followed by an Aerodrome Control Course at the Malaysian Aviation Academy. In addition to these, Ziyan has taken up an examination by the Civil Aviation Authority of Maldives and an English Examination – which finally lead her to a student license.
“I was nervous even when I was controlling under the supervision of a mentor. However, as it continues it comes naturally. It’s like as if I am playing a real life game, controlling everything. It’s better to learn through practice, and once you begin and truly put your mind to it, everything is easy”.
Passing through numerous hurdles, Ziyan has today become one of the very few female aerodrome controllers in the Maldives. Perhaps it’s because people do not often portray women to be completely fit for such a job. But the “god complex and the commanding feeling” that her responsibilities give her is, according to Ziyan, what motivates her to keep going on.
Having to carry the weight of the lives of hundreds of people every day is no easy task. A single miscommunication or the failure to give a command on the dot could lead to deaths of hundreds being on you. On dealing with that stress, Ziyan revealed that she usually watches TV or goes for a casual coffee – and of course, a lot of hanging out in the lounge.
“You usually know beforehand the time frame in which you will get the busiest. To handle that pressure, I always plan ahead and talk calmly. Because, the listener could tell whether you are under pressure or not from the tone of your voice. Also, talking slowly and calmly gives you more time to think of your next move, and so that’s how I usually handle all the pressure – the key point being, do not panic”.
Juggling work and personal life is yet another challenge for Ziyan, who is married with a three year old son. As she says, her family’s support is one of the greatest factors that helps her manage it all and keep everything balanced. Likewise, Ziyan noted the great support her husband and Mother-In-Law gives her, which quite clearly is the driving force behind her.
“The most important thing is interest. If you have the interest to do something, then you can do anything. So those who want to get into the field they should join and they should try to gain the experience by working and turning to those superior to them”.
With the world’s largest seaplane fleet being operated in the Maldives, Ziyan is proud to be working as an aerodrome controller in the Maldives since it gives her a whole new level of experience. From a daughter to a wife, to a mother as well as an aerodrome controller, Ziyan is an example to all women out there. And we wish her, the best of both worlds and a successful future ahead.