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

ITU Telecom World 2012


  Ministerial Roundtable - Women In ICTs 

Moderator Remarks 


16 October 2012, Dubai, UAE

Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General, International Telecommunication Union
Laure Olga Gondjout – S.G. Présidence de la République of the Gabonese Republic (Board of director at the African Development Bank, adviser to President Bongo Ondimba, former deputy minister of foreign affairs, former Minister of foreign affairs, former minister of telecommunication, currently Secretary General of the Presidency in Gabon)

Abou Lô – Ministère de la Communication, des Télécommunications, Republic of Senegal

Jasna Matić – Special Advisor for Competitiveness and Knowledge, Ministry of Finance and Economy, Serbia

Moussa Benhamadi – Ministère de la Poste et des Technologies, Algeria

Hessa Sultan Al-Jaber – Secretary General, ictQATAR

Deborah Taylor Tate – Special Envoy For ITU Child Online Protection

Khédija Ghariani – Secretary General, Arab Information and Communication Technology, Tunisia

Omobola Johnson – Minister of Communications Technology, Nigeria
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here with you this morning for this opening Ministerial Roundtable session here at ITU Telecom World 2012 in Dubai.

Our focus today is on Women – and girls – in ICT, a topic of great importance to ITU and to the world in general.

Gender equality is a founding principle of the UN, and ensuring equal opportunities for men and women in the ICT sector is vitally important to ITU.

The role of women is key in reducing poverty and promoting socio-economic development – for themselves, for their families, and for their countries.

Educated, empowered women create productive, strong economies – and societies where women are fully represented are more peaceful and stable than those that are not.

To quote the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, ‘equality for women and girls  is not only a basic human right – it is a social and economic imperative’.

Getting women and girls into ICT is vital for a number of reasons. ICTs facilitate the provision of education and job training; and they also improve access to healthcare and participation in economies and civil societies.

And in a world where 95% of all jobs now have a digital component, encouraging women and girls in ICT is critical.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Women CEOs now lead 18 of the Fortune 500 companies. This is a welcome increase on last year – but is still very far from parity. And only 10 of 158 independent ICT regulatory authorities are headed up by a woman.

So our challenges then are to:
  • Increase women’s access to ICTs globally, through increased broadband connectivity;
  • Create demand amongst women and girls for careers in the sector;
  • Increase the number of women in ICT education; and
  • Encourage the private sector to attract, promote and retain women over the long-term.

I would also urge Ministers and other key players to participate fully in ITU's initiatives in this area – and indeed I know that some of you are already very active in this domain.

This includes organizing international Girls in ICT day on the fourth Thursday of April each year – it’s easy to remember: the fourth day of the fourth week of the fourth month.

This year's Girls in ICT day included as over 1,300 events held in nearly 90 countries – and included the participation of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, with hundreds of events held at schools across Germany.

We also used the occasion of Girls in ICT day this year to launch a new three-year campaign, “Tech Needs Girls”, including advocacy, events, Girls in ICT ambassadors and the further development of the Girls in ICT web portal.

And just last week, on 11 October – the first United Nations International Day of the Girl – we launched a new prize in conjunction with the Tech Needs Girls campaign; the first awards will be made on Girls in ICT day 2013.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Together, we can bring women and girls into ICT and develop this enormous untapped human potential from the bottom of the pyramid up – for the good of us all!

And on that note I would now like to open the floor to my distinguished panelists…