Felicia Edem Attipoe is a very inspiring single mother, having skipped hurdles and overcome odds to become Ghana’s First Female Aircraft Marshaller.
Hers is an inspiring story about how not to cave in when life hauls pebbles at you. Despite the painful circumstances that she had to go through and the bleakness of it all, she remained unbroken and resolute; focusing her energy in getting better and forging on. Today she has become a role model for lots of women within and beyond the African continent.
Growing up, Attipoe had ambitions just like every other young girl. “Growing up, I wanted to be a musician, and at a point, I learned and played the keyboard at church. The keyboard playing enhanced my typing ability and I knew I will eventually become a secretary,’’ she said.
She started out as a secretary at the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority from 1999 and she later joined the Ghana Airports Company Limited. Afterwards, she took a four-year leave without pay to study whilst living with her husband abroad.
She got the opportunity to do her attachment at the national theatre, helping to produce the popular Keysoap Concert party. “My attachment at the Ghana National Theatre moved me into art and I am proud to be part of the beginners of concert party in Ghana where I was a producer,’’ she narrated.
Attipoe’s marriage crashed just before she returned home after her studies. A failed marriage was not something she ever envisaged. From then, Attipoe resorted to selling porridge (Koko) and fruit salad at the airport as a single mum to survive.
In 2011, she got her job back but with a transfer to the Ramp section as a secretary. “When I got there, I realized there was little a secretary could do in that section. I was dormant and always sleeping. I felt I was underutilized”.
Since she was less busy, she would spend some of her time observing how the men marshalled aircraft to bay. At that time, there were no females.
Fascinated by the work of the marshallers, Ms Attipoe took a bold step of telling the Director of Airport Operations that she was interested in that field. It took a while for him to agree, but she later got the opportunity to apply and be trained as a marshaller.
“I failed the exams the first time, rewrote and passed it at the second attempt. My first time on the field was tough. When I saw the aircraft coming, I wanted to drop the bats and run away, but the men were so helpful. They encouraged me and gave me much support,” she stated.
Now, she loves her job and does it passionately. According to her, even though aircraft marshalling was not her childhood dream, she is living a fulfilled life. She reiterated how proud she was to have marshalled the presidential Flight 001, which had then Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama on board.
Despite being a male-dominated profession, Ms Attipoe is one of the few women who rub shoulders with men as aircraft marshallers in the West African country. “So far as I was concerned, aircraft marshalling was purely a man’s job. It was solely done by men until I joined the section. Now we have 15 ladies here. And for me, there are no gender hindrances,” Ms Attipoe stated.
Recently, she was recognised by the Kwame Nkrumah Hall JCRC of University of Cape Coast (UCC) and the Women of Excellence for her outstanding sacrifice, understanding and steadfast support of the Women of Excellence week Celebration 2019.
In September, Attipoe got honoured at the 2019 AviaTour Conference for supporting the drive to bridge the gap between Aviation and tourism.
Apart from aircraft marshalling, Ms Attipoe has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the African University College of Communications; a Diploma in Photography from Temple University, Japan; and Certificates in Aerodrome Safety. Also, she has Certificate in Marshalling and Radio Telephony from the Aviation School, and she engages in social works.