Speech from Dr Hamadoun I. Tour, ITU Secretary-General

ITU theme: “ICT Development for women and girls = Poverty reduction and prosperity for all”
Geneva, Switzerland
6 March 2008

Gender diversity is critical to our success if we are to bridge the digital divide.  ICTs are enablers for the achievement of all Millennium Development Goals, including MDG 3 – “Promote gender equality and empower women”. This is reflected in the theme of ITU’s International Women's Day 2008 “ICT Development for women and girls = Poverty reduction and prosperity for all”.

I commend ITU women's diverse contributions towards attaining this goal, from meeting assistants to engineers, from project managers to the IT specialists, from administrators to media specialists as well as accountants. Today is also an opportunity for us to reflect on what ITU women have achieved so far and also to consider what still remains to be done.  This year, the first woman Director at D2 level was appointed and the Radio Regulations Board is chaired by a woman.

ITU has a leading role to play in bridging the gender digital divide. To this end we need to fully utilize all staff both men and women and provide an enabling environment for women to contribute to the best of their abilities.  The time has come for ITU to invest in its women to allow them to harness their potential and develop their skills.  I encourage the women to be bold, enterprising and take advantage of opportunities that arise. I will strive to provide in ITU a progressive and fair work environment for all, making women’s development and empowerment a priority.

My administration will encourage policies and measures aimed at harnessing and developing in-house female talent.  We already have family-friendly policies, such as extensive flexible working-hours, provision of family and paternity leave and a nursing room. I encourage staff to consult with the Gender Group to explore other measures that will allow working parents, both men and women to better balance work and home responsibilities. 

I urge the Gender group to work with the administration to find innovative ways to help achieve gender balance at all levels and ensure fair representation in the decision-making bodies of ITU.   I also encourage managers at all levels to provide an inclusive environment where consideration is given to gender diversity and especially the concerns of women.

To build good teams, women and men have to be and feel part of the team!