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Developing women’s leadership skills at WRC-15

ITU and UNITAR pioneer all-day workshop for female delegates

Geneva, 4 November 2015 – ITU is proud to be among the first UN agencies in Geneva to offer comprehensive professional training in leadership and negotiation skills to Member State and Sector Member women as part of its commitment to promoting equality of opportunity for all delegates attending major ITU meetings and conferences.

The Women’s Leadership Workshop: Empowering Women in Radiocommunications Negotiations took place at ITU headquarters on Sunday, 1 November, just ahead of the opening of ITU’s World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15, 2-27 November). Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau, François Rancy, and UNITAR Executive Director and UN Assistant Secretary-General, Nikhil Seth, welcomed nearly 30 women from across ITU regions, who spent the day with expert trainers and women staff from ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau to tailor their leadership skills, exchange knowledge and interact with role models attending the WRC-15 conference. The workshop gave all participants a unique opportunity to share their ideas and tips on how to overcome career challenges, develop their own leadership style, and build on their personal strengths.

The day’s activities also included a lively interactive panel session moderated by Doreen Bogdan, ITU’s most senior female staff member, and featuring five inspiring female role models: Dr Whitney Lohmeyer, Communications Systems & Regulatory Engineer, OneWeb; Dr Elena Manaenkova, Assistant Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization; Dr Veena Rawat, Senior Spectrum Advisor with the GSMA; H.E. Yvette Stevens, Ambassador to the United Nations of the Republic of Sierra Leone; and Julie Zoller, Senior Deputy Coordinator & Director of Multilateral Affairs, US State Department and former member of the Radio Regulations Board. These highly successful women shared their personal experiences, offered career development advice, and encouraged participants to be confident and assertive in exercising their professional skills and expertise.

ITU partnered with UNITAR to offer the training – a first at a major ITU treaty-making conference. The popularity and success of the event could see women’s leadership skills sessions become a regular fixture at other important ITU meetings, including ITU Council 2016.

In his opening remarks to participants, ITU’s Rancy noted that while the number of female delegates participating in the WRC has improved slightly over the past 10 years, not enough emphasis was being put on empowering women to gain the international experience they need to serve on – and even lead – national delegations.

“Over the years, we have seen steady and positive progress in the number of women delegates attending our conferences, assemblies and meetings, and this year is no exception – but we are still a long way from achieving gender parity. At WRC-12 only 15.9% of delegates were women, a slight increase compared to the 14.7% at WRC-07. While this is a worthy increase, if progress continues at this rate, it will be WRC-2112 before we have equal numbers of male and female delegates,” he said.

UNITAR Executive Director Nikhil Seth said: “UNITAR’s new Women’s Leadership Programme is working hand-in-hand with UN Women and across the UN System to deliver on the challenging goals of achieving gender parity and promoting gender-equal leadership opportunities within governments and in multilateral decision-making fora. UNITAR is proud to partner with the ITU in delivering this Women’s Leadership Programme workshop for the delegates to the WRC-15 conference. UNITAR is driven by the fact that women’s equality and empowerment is good politics, good economics, good for social inclusion and an important way of insuring peaceful and just societies.”

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao joined the group at end of the day for the presentation of certificates and group photo. “Helping women realize their professional goals and become more effective members of their delegations will benefit the work of ITU as a whole by bringing new voices and perspectives to our debates. More diversity means a richer, more rounded discussion, and better outcomes for all,” said Mr Zhao, who recently signed on as a Geneva Gender Champion, alongside other heads of Geneva-based UN agencies, including Michael Möller, Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva.

Participants encouraged ITU to organize future women’s leadership training workshops, in the hope that even more delegations will be able to take advantage of this opportunity to help their female delegates develop the skills, expertise and confidence that will make them even more valuable members of their national teams.

View photos of the event: https://www.flickr.com/photos/itupictures/albums/72157660615083802

Video highlights: https://youtu.be/FD3Q8ukYo-s


For more information, please contact:

Sarah Parkes
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, ITU
telephone +41 22 730 6135
mobile +41 79 599 1439
email sarah.parkes@itu.int 

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