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 Wednesday, 17 October 2012

‘Women with the Wave’ forum speaker Geena Davis calls for more female characters, more positive portrayal of girls and women

Leaders attending an Asia-Pacific high-level forum have issued a rallying call for greater participation of women in media, information and communication technology (ICT) and communications across the region.

The call came at the end of the two-day ‘Women With the Wave’ forum in Korea, with delegates urging media industry leaders, governments and international organizations to work harder to promote greater female representation in industry workplaces and on the airwaves.

They stressed the need for a gender inclusive media and information and communication technology (ICT) environment that empowers women and girls to work in the media and ICT fields across all levels and occupational groups, both on- and off-screen. They also called for women to be given greater access to technological and digital platforms, and advocated for a positive, non-stereotypical and balanced portrayal across all forms of media and technological platforms.

The forum was one of a number of events leading up to the 49th General Assembly of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) in Seoul. It featured a keynote speech by Oscar winning actor and advocate Geena Davis, who was recently appointed ITU’s Special Envoy for Women and Girls.

“The time for change is now, and all of you in this room are powerful agents of change”, said Ms Davis. I’d like to applaud Asian broadcasters, filmmakers, Internet stakeholders, academics and others in taking the lead to change the image of women and girls in ICTs. From Korea’s famous K-dramas to Bollywood musicals, we need the characters that will inspire tomorrow’s tech-centered professionals”.

The final statement issued by the forum paid tribute to the ABU, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), host organization the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), and other participating partners for helping to highlight the crucial role media plays in promoting women’s full participation in all aspects of life and society.

“We note that women and girls make up 50 per cent of the world’s population and that equal rights and opportunity underpin healthy economies and societies,” the statement says. “We call on all who can assist to recognize the digital wave now sweeping the world and to join us in supporting the preparation of women and girls for the opportunities and benefits which the knowledge society is now bringing to families worldwide, and which will do so even more in the future”, it concludes.

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré highlighted his organization’s strong commitment to harnessing ICTs to empower women, both through improved access to new technologies and through training opportunities that will help them pursue a career in the fast-growing ICT sector.

“ITU’s Tech Needs Girls campaign and recently launched annual Tech Needs Girls Prize targets girls aged 9-18 at the time when they are forming opinions and making career choices. Together, the campaign and prize aim to help them see a connection between tech and their daily lives, gain confidence in their skills and find fun in ICT. In addition, our comprehensive multilingual Girls in ICT Portal highlights tech scholarships, training opportunities and mentorship programmes for girls and women around the world”, he said.

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