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ITU Award goes to President Cristina Fernández of Argentina, Sun Yafang and Geena Davis

Focus on digital opportunities for women and girls

Geneva, 16 May 2012 – The 2012 World Telecommunication and Information Society Award was presented to three eminent personalities: President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina, Huawei Chairman Sun Yafang, and Academy Award winning actor Geena Davis, founder of the Geena Davis Institute of Gender in Media. The ceremony took place in Geneva to mark the 147th anniversary of the establishment of ITU in 1865.

The theme for the 2012 World Telecommunication and Information Society Day focuses on ‘Women and girls in ICT’. It is aimed at extending digital opportunities by providing avenues of advancement to professional women at the highest echelons of decision-making, and by encouraging young women to seek new careers within the sector.

In a message on the occasion of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “On this World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, I call again for wide-ranging efforts to close both the digital divide and the gender gap.  All people must be able to make the best use of information and communications technology to help create the future we want.”

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré further reaffirmed that gender equality is a basic human right enshrined in the UN Charter, and one of the main objectives of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

“We are focusing our efforts this year on women and girls, using the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to provide new digital opportunities to end discrimination, and to empower women and girls to participate fully in society” Dr Touré said. “Girls and young women with ICT skills will find jobs that offer creativity, innovation, and entirely new ways of working. And encouraging girls into the technology industry will create a positive feedback loop – in turn creating inspiring role models for the next generation.”

One such role model, is represented by H.E. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Argentina who has spearheaded numerous digital initiatives such as the ‘Equal Connect Programme’ which aims to reduce the digital divide across Argentina’s educational system with a specific focus on developing quality digital content.

Mr Amado Boudou, Vice-President of Argentina accepted the Award on behalf of President Fernández. Mr Boudou said, “Equality is not about being able to speak from our own homes; equality is that we can all hear, we can all link up to, and we all exercise our equal rights and opportunities to access cutting-edge technologies.”

Ms Sun Yafang emphasized that positive role models and real gender equality are critical for the ICT industry. “The ICT market is full of uncertainties, requiring companies to be highly adaptive,” said Ms Sun. “In light of this, I have been promoting female manager development at Huawei. This programme gives preference to women in manager selection when all qualifications are equal. In this way, we can provide real development opportunities for our female employees.”

Ms Geena Davis, founder of the Geena Davis Institute of Gender in Media, has dedicated herself to advocating more positive representations of women and girls in the media and knows well the importance of reinforcing positive role models. Accepting her award she said: “Media can create positive opportunities to overcome social and cultural barriers. We know that if girls watch female characters in un-stereotyped activities, it heightens the possibility that girls will seek employment in non-traditional vocations. And, boys and men will come to see it as the norm and not the exception. If they can see it, they can be it”.

Dr Hamadoun Touré concluded by saying that “Girls looking at their career choices need real, flesh-and-blood, role models they can aspire to – like our prestigious Laureates. We need to close the gender gap, and getting girls and young women into the ICT sector is a great way of helping to do that. At ITU, raising awareness of this issue did not start today and certainly will not stop today. It will continue to form an important part of our focus over the next years and we count on the support and expertise of all our members and friends to work with us to redress the gender imbalance in the ICT sector.”

For more information, see www.itu.int/wtisd/index.html or contact:

Paul Conneally

Head, Communications and Partnership Promotion Division, ITU

tel +41 22 730 5601
tel +41 79 592 5668
tel  paul.conneally@itu.int  

Sanjay Acharya

Chief, Media Relations and Public Information

tel +41 22 730 5046
tel +41 79 249 4861
tel sanjay.acharya@itu.int 

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