UN Broadband Commission sets new gender target: getting more women connected
to ICTs ‘critical’ to post-2015 development agenda
Broadband access key to meeting gender-related MDGs
Mexico City, 17 March, 2013 – Commissioners gathered for the
7th meeting of the Broadband
Commission for Digital Development, held today in Mexico City, have agreed
an ambitious new target designed to spur female access to the power of
information and communication technologies (ICTs).
The new target mandates ‘gender equality in broadband access by the year
2020’. At present, ITU figures confirm that in the developing world, women are
much less likely to have access to technology than their male counterparts.
While that disparity is lower in developed countries, a measureable gap
nonetheless still exists, even in the rich world.
“Women’s access to ICTs and particularly broadband must be made a key pillar
of the post-2015 global development agenda,” said Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU
Secretary-General and co-Vice Chair of the Commission. “The mobile miracle has
clearly demonstrated how powerful information and communication technologies can
be in driving economic growth. However, figures from ITU and its sister agencies
like UNESCO and UNDP show a clear ‘gender gap’ in access to technology. We need
to redress that imbalance to ensure that all people are empowered to take
control of their own destinies through ICTs.”
The new gender target was one decisive outcome of the first face-to-face
meeting of the Broadband Commission Working Group on Gender, which was launched
in New York in 2012 by Geena Davis, actor, advocate and ITU’s Special Envoy on
Women and Girls.
Chaired by Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP), the Working Group on Gender meeting attracted 69
Commissioners, special representatives and guest experts, making it the
best-attended Working Group of the Commission to date.
“In a world where ICTs empower, lack of equal opportunity for women and girls
to access those technologies risks thwarting development progress,” said
Clark. “If we can find ways to close the gender gap in ICT access, we can not
only help empower individual women and girls, and their families, but catalyze
the kind of inclusive and sustainable development which benefits us all.”
The gender group meeting, which took place on Saturday 16 March, featured
presentations by a number of organizations leading projects in the ‘gender and
technology’ space, including Changecorp, GSMA, Intel, Telecentre.org and ITU.
ITU’s digital literacy partnership with Telecentre.org has already trained over
625,000 women in basic digital skills, and is well on track to meet its target
of one million women trained by 2015.
The meeting was followed by a Commission visit to ‘Aldea Digital’ (Digital
Village), a three-day ‘living lab’ showcasing the broadband networks, services
and applications at the heart of today’s and tomorrow’s world.
Today’s full meeting of over 30 Commission members and their representatives
endorsed the target proposed by the Gender Working Group, requested that members
of that group implement a project ‘dashboard’ to track gender and technology
initiatives worldwide, and mandated the group to deliver its first set of
outcomes to the next meeting of the Commission in September in New York.
Today’s Commission meeting also saw in-depth discussions on roadblocks to
faster broadband deployment and potential solutions to impediments such as
investment financing, with the focus on innovative strategies to help countries
accelerate progress towards achieving the ambitious
broadband access targets set by the Commission in 2011.
Highlights of the meeting included a presentation on digital accessibility by
Axel Leblois, Executive Director of G3ICT, a presentation on the ‘New Africa
2014’ project by musician and Minister of Tourism of Senegal, Youssou N’dour,
and work on broadband-related inputs to the B20 meeting later this year, led by
Carlos Slim Domit, Chairman of the Board of Grupo Carso.
Today’s Commission meeting also launched a new Task Group on the post-2015
development agenda and the future Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be
led by Ericsson.
Sustainable development is the focus of ITU’s ‘m-Powering Development’
initiative, which was presented to Commissioners during the morning session of
today’s meeting. The initiative aims to leverage the huge installed base of
mobile handsets to bring new services to communities globally, particularly in
the world’s poorest countries. “m-Powering Development seeks to act as a
catalyst to achieve sustainability, harnessing the power of state-of-the-art
ICTs and smart solutions to meet new Sustainable Development Goals,” said
Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), who
is spearheading the initiative.
The Broadband Commission Working Group on Youth, led by ITU’s Dr Touré, will
also lead a Global Youth Summit on technology issues, to be held in Costa Rica
from 9-11 September at the invitation of President Laura Chinchilla. The Summit
will welcome over 500 young people aged 18-25 from countries around the world,
as well as featuring a stream for 9-17 year old Costa Rican youth.
Last September, the Broadband Commission released its first global snapshot
of broadband deployment, entitled The
State of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion for All .The second
edition of the report, again featuring country-by-country rankings based on
access and affordability, will be launched at the 8th meeting of the Commission
in New York.
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