Shaesta Waiza, the youngest certified female pilot from Afghanistan and the founder of Dreams Soar, is flying around the world to serve as an inspiration for other women and girls.

Waiza started her 16,000-mile journey through 19 different countries back in May when she took off from Daytona Beach, Florida. She recently took a detour and traveled to her home country of Afghanistan to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to speak about women’s rights and opportunities in Afghanistan.

Women’s rights advancements have been significant in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Millions of Afghan girls now receive an education and women are permitted to work for the government, run their own business, and serve in parliament. But despite these advancements, Afghan women still face many barriers, making the country one of the most difficult in the world to be a woman.

The Afghan-American pilot, who was born in a refugee camp in Afghanistan, hopes that her story will inspire others to pursue their dreams. “When I was a little girl I thought maybe I would go to college, but I would get married at a young age and have a family. But then I found something that I really loved and that’s flying,” said Waiza.

Waiza has the incredible support from both the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the organization backing her trip, and her family. Waiza’s father said, “The support of parents for girls is very constructive. Parents should provide the opportunity for higher education studies for their children, especially for girls.”

Once Waiza completes her trip, she will be the youngest woman pilot ever to complete a solo trip around the world.

 

Media Resources: Al Jazeera 7/18/17; Abc News 7/11/17; BBC 7/10/17; TOLO News 7/10/17

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