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Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré


ITU World Café @Council 2012


     Opening Remarks      

10 July 2012, Geneva, Switzerland

Dear colleagues,

Good afternoon, and welcome to the ITU World Café at Council 2012.

I was reminded last week why French is such a good language – because in French ‘le problème’ is masculine, while ‘la solution’ is feminine!

With that in mind, I am pleased to let you know that ITU, like all the other entities within the UN System, is actively moving ahead with mainstreaming gender equality and women’s empowerment in all areas of its activities.

Indeed, PP-10 passed a resolution instructing us to do this – and we are working to ensure that a gender perspective is enshrined in ITU’s strategic plan.

I personally made a very public commitment at PP-10, when I included women’s empowerment as one of the five key priorities for my second term in office.

This year we have made very significant efforts in this regard – for example with the staging of over 100 ‘Girls in ICT Day’ events in more than 70 countries worldwide, as part of our annual celebrations on 26 April.

At our own high-level debate in New York, we brought together leading international figures and champions of gender empowerment to debate and discuss core issues in front of an invited audience of over 200 gender, education and technology experts.

We used the New York event as a platform to launch a three-year ‘Tech Needs Girls’ campaign focused around four ‘Es’: empowerment, equality, education and employment.

The same focus was given to this year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, WTISD, which was held on 16 May.

With the theme of ‘Women and Girls in ICT’, we were proud to give the 2012 WTISD awards to three laureates who have devoted their attention to this cause.

The three laureates were:
  • Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the President of Argentina;
  • Sun Yafang, the Chairman of Huawei; and
  • Geena Davis, the Academy Award winning actor and founder of the Geena Davis Institute of Gender in Media.

On the afternoon of WTISD, we held a high-level dialogue on ‘Women and Girls in ICT’, featuring speakers from government, industry and civil society.

Here at ITU we have created a ‘Gender Task Force’, which is coordinating ITU’s action in the area of gender mainstreaming – and one of the first missions of the Gender Task Force is to prepare an ITU-wide policy on gender.

I was also very pleased to see that gender equality and women’s empowerment were highlighted as a priority last month in the final outcome document of the Rio+20 conference.

With the rest of ITU management, I firmly believe that gender equality and women’s empowerment are key to making the world a better place for all.

Dear colleagues,

This afternoon, I am pleased to welcome you to this “Engendering Change” collaborative meeting, in the format of a world café.

This is an innovative approach, allowing all participants to engage actively in creative conversations, and I am sure we will have rich discussions on how we can continue to promote gender equality.

It is an excellent opportunity for ITU Council Members and ITU staff to exchange their views on a topic that we all have close to our hearts.

So let’s hear your ideas and proposals for defining the ITU gender policy, and for moving gender mainstreaming forward.

And let’s engender change, by making the world more fair and more equal!

Thank you.