Geena Davis appeals to UN Broadband Commission to harness broadband to empower girls and women
Date: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 10:43
Academy Award-winning and advocate Geena Davis addressed the sixth meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in New York with a call to the Commission’s 60 top-level members to use the power of broadband to bring new opportunities to women and girls worldwide.
Ms Davis appealed to the Commission to set up a special focus group on gender that would undertake research on the many ways broadband networks and technologies could be used to empower girls and women – for example, through access to education, health care and useful information such as farming advice, climate monitoring and commodity prices, but also as tools to foster female entrepreneurship and new business opportunities.
“Broadband is having a transformational impact on the media and entertainment industry, but its importance reaches much further than that…Broadband will be key to meeting the Millennium Development Goals, providing women with the means to educate themselves and their children; improve their own health and the health of their families and communities; start their own businesses; keep themselves safe; and innovate to build and shape the future they want. This Commission can play a powerful advocacy role by speaking out strongly for the greater engagement of girls and women in the digital revolution taking place all around us,” said Ms Davis.
Her call to action was enthusiastically received by the Commission which immediately agreed to establish a special working group on gender and technology with a specific focus on how to better engage and empower girls. The working group will be headed by Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. It received a spontaneous donation of USD 1 million from Commissioner Reza Jafari, with several members of the commission agreeing to prepare a special report on opportunities and barriers for girls and women, to be presented at the next meeting of the Commission in Mexico City in March 2013.
“The creation of this new Broadband Commission Working Group is a positive step forward in extending the benefits of broadband to all, and accelerating progress in meeting the MDGs – several of which focus on gender-related issues,” said Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General. “We are grateful for the support of committed, high-profile ambassadors like Ms Davis, who greatly increase the impact and reach of our message about the catalytic role ICTs can play in gender empowerment.”
In June this year, Ms Davis was named ITU’s Special Envoy for Women and Girls in the field of technology. In this role she is actively promoting ITU’s new ‘Tech Needs Girls’ campaign through public appearances at high-profile events, where she speaks on the importance of extending access to technology to women worldwide, reinforces the importance of positive gender role models, and highlights the many exciting career opportunities available to young women in the high-tech sector.
The three-year Tech Needs Girls campaign will raise awareness worldwide of the role technology can play in empowering women. Through online multimedia content, major advocacy events around the globe and key partnerships with industry, government, civil society, media and other UN agencies, the campaign will highlight the potential of technology to transform women’s lives.
Earlier this year ITU launched a multilingual web portal focused on helping girls and women access training, job opportunities and career information in the fast-growing information and communication (ICT) sector.
The Girls in ICT Portal houses some 500 programmes, including over 100 scholarship programmes and some 70 contests and awards, more than 100 training and internship opportunities, over 100 online networks offering career support and mentoring, as well as tech camps and other activities.