At the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs), we are working to advance gender equality and expand opportunities for women in ICTs in a number of ways.
For example, our newly formed Network of Women for WTDC encourages skilled female professionals to assume leadership roles in the run-up to ITU’s upcoming World Telecommunication Development Conference.
In practice, this includes achieving gender equality in both Internet usage and mobile phone ownership. It also means fostering gender mainstreaming at the national level in broadband and digital policies, strategies, projects benefiting from public funding, and public-private partnerships.
I would like to thank UN Women and its Forum co-hosts, the governments of Mexico and France, for making ITU part of this exciting movement, whereby we all aim to reverse the rising tide of gender inequality in the age of COVID-19.
I was especially heartened to learn about concrete actions and commitments, as well as hear inspirational stories.
In the face of a growing digital gender divide, international cooperation is the way forward.
Today, ITU reaffirms its commitments with UN Women’s International Training Centre to boost visibility, as well as business and digital skills, for 10,000 women leaders and entrepreneurs in the tech sector over the next five years – and to keep working closely with GSMA, Ernst & Young, and skills training organization W4 through the “Her Digital Skills” initiative.
This year at ITU, we continue to celebrate the tenth anniversary of International Girls in ICT Day by reaffirming our year-round commitment to the next generation of women in tech.
As the Generation Equality Forum sets out on a new five-year action journey, I believe we can realistically achieve gender mainstreaming in at least half of the world’s ICT policies by 2026.
We can do this by enabling enhanced, safer, and more affordable access to ICTs, by building digital skills – and by addressing the stereotypes and social norms that still result in discrimination against women.
By holding back half of the world’s population, we hold back human progress.
If we do not change direction now, it will be very difficult to achieve gender equality – or any of the other UN Sustainable Development Goals – by the end of this decade.
Let us foster gender mainstreaming in all digital policies. We need to make digital gender equality an important part of our efforts to build back better after COVID. Only this way can we expect to achieve an equal digital future for all.
Based on remarks delivered at the 2021 Generation Equality Forum, convened by UN Women and hosted by the governments of Mexico and France.