Gem in the spotlight: first F-16 pilot in focus

8 Mar 2023

Today, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day. A very good reason – more than 100 years after the origin of this day for women’s rights – to look back at the past with this gem from the meemoo archive system. Have you ever wondered what was happening with gender equality in the workplace just 30 years ago?

A bit further back than then – on 11 September 1992, to be precise – Anne-Marie Jansen received her ‘wings’ and military pilot’s licence, to become the Belgian Air Force’s first female pilot. We delved into the VRT archive to find out more about this memorable moment.

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Corps Adjutant, Aircraft Technician, Air Traffic Control, Force Protection, Bird Control Unit... Women have held various positions in the Belgian Air Force since that day in 1992, but when 19-year-old Anne-Marie Jansen dreamed of a career as an F-16 pilot back then, the pathway to get there was not clear at all. 

In the 1980s, women were permitted to take the Air Force entrance examinations, but none of them ever made it to the final round, where the tough physical tests had been designed with men in mind. But Anne-Marie still managed to make her way into this man’s world. After two years of training for the entrance exam, all her hard work paid off. Anne-Marie passed all the selection tests with flying colours, and started her pilot training in 1990 – ultimate proof that she did not have to be inferior to her male colleagues. After all, as the pilot herself says: ‘Women just want to fly the same as men’. 

International Women’s Day in a nutshell

On 8 March 1908, there was a mass strike in Chicago and New York. Women working in the textile industry were calling for an 8-hour working day, better working conditions and voting rights. Two years later, at the international women’s conference in Copenhagen, ‘International Women’s Day’ was proclaimed for the first time. It was first celebrated internationally in March 1911, in various countries including Germany, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and the United States. But it was only many decades later – in 1978 – that the United Nations officially recognised this important day.

Source: Wikipedia and Amnesty International.

We regularly highlight hidden gems from our meemoo archive system. This time we chose a video from our content partner VRT

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