Broadband access key to gender MDGs
DEVELOPMENT| March 18, 2013, 7:16 a.m.
Commissioners at the 7th meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development have agreed an ambitious new target designed to spur female access to ICTs.
The new target mandates ‘gender equality in broadband access by the year 2020’. At present, ITU figures confirm that in the developing world, women are much less likely to have access to technology than their male counterparts. While that disparity is lower in developed countries, a measureable gap nonetheless still exists, even in the rich world.
“Women’s access to ICTs and particularly broadband must be made a key pillar of the post-2015 global development agenda,” said Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General and co-Vice Chair of the Commission. “The mobile miracle has clearly demonstrated how powerful information and communication technologies can be in driving economic growth. However, figures from ITU and its sister agencies like UNESCO and UNDP show a clear ‘gender gap’ in access to technology. We need to redress that imbalance to ensure that all people are empowered to take control of their own destinies through ICTs.”
The new gender target was one decisive outcome of the first face-to-face meeting of the Broadband Commission Working Group on Gender, which was launched in New York in 2012 by Geena Davis, actor, advocate and ITU’s Special Envoy on Women and Girls.
Chaired by Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Working Group on Gender meeting attracted 69 Commissioners, special representatives and guest experts, making it the best-attended Working Group of the Commission to date.
“In a world where ICTs empower, lack of equal opportunity for women and girls to access those technologies risks thwarting development progress,” said Clark. “If we can find ways to close the gender gap in ICT access, we can not only help empower individual women and girls, and their families, but catalyse the kind of inclusive and sustainable development which benefits us all.”
The gender group meeting, which took place on Saturday 16 March, featured presentations by a number of organizations leading projects in the ‘gender and technology’ space, including Changecorp, GSMA, Intel, Telecentre.org and ITU. ITU’s digital literacy partnership with Telecentre.org has already trained over 625,000 women in basic digital skills, and is well on track to meet its target of one million women trained by 2015.
The meeting was followed by a Commission visit to ‘Aldea Digital’ (Digital Village), a three-day ‘living lab’ showcasing the broadband networks, services and applications at the heart of today’s and tomorrow’s world.
The full meeting of over 30 Commission members and their representatives endorsed the target proposed by the Gender Working Group, requested that members of that group implement a project ‘dashboard’ to track gender and technology initiatives worldwide, and mandated the group to deliver its first set of outcomes to the next meeting of the Commission in September in New York.
The Commission meeting also saw in-depth discussions on roadblocks to faster broadband deployment and potential solutions to impediments such as investment financing, with the focus on innovative strategies to help countries accelerate progress towards achieving the ambitious broadband access targets set by the Commission in 2011.
The meeting also launched a new Task Group on the post-2015 development agenda and the future Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be led by Ericsson.
Sustainable development is the focus of ITU’s ‘m-Powering Development’ initiative, which was presented to Commissioners during the morning session of today’s meeting. The initiative aims to leverage the huge installed base of mobile handsets to bring new services to communities globally, particularly in the world’s poorest countries. “m-Powering Development seeks to act as a catalyst to achieve sustainability, harnessing the power of state-of-the-art ICTs and smart solutions to meet new Sustainable Development Goals,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), who is spearheading the initiative.
The Broadband Commission Working Group on Youth, led by ITU’s Dr Touré, will also lead a Global Youth Summit on technology issues, to be held in Costa Rica from 9-11 September at the invitation of President Laura Chinchilla. The Summit will welcome over 500 young people aged 18-25 from countries around the world, as well as featuring a stream for 9-17 year old Costa Rican youth.
MORE DEVELOPMENT NEWS
Tigo change leader Hayford Siaw selected as 2015 Ford FellowTigo’s 2012 Change Leader Hayford Siaw has been selected to participate in this year’s Ford Fellowship programme in New York. Read More
Visa, Mastercard in strategic partnerships with AFI for financial inclusionThe Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) has signed strategic partnerships with Visa Inc. and MasterCard, to enable close collaboration and knowledge exchange within the framework of AFI’s Public-Private Dialogue Platform (PPD). Read More
Schneider Electric sponsored runner wins 2015 Paris MarathonEthiopian runner, Meseret Mengistu (26), has won the prestigious 2015 Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris women’s race in 2:23:24. Read More
M-PESA foundation opens new academyThe M-PESA Foundation has announced that it is constructing a state of the art, mixed boarding high school that will seek to provide a first class, unique education to gifted but economically disadvantaged children from all counties of Kenya. Read More
Ngombe PTA school goes paperless with computer libraryNgombe PTA School has gone paperless by converting its library into a modern computer laboratory which will improve access to modern technology. Read More
Airtel supports Mathare slum youthAirtel is ensuring that over 800 school children get hot meals every day and that 32 teachers receive their monthly salaries. Read More
ENhANCE project improves ICT education in East AfricaAalto University has launched the ENhANCE project, which has seen them team up with institutions in Ethiopia and Tanzania to provide the technical and educational support that can help address the challenges faced by these countries. Read More
College joins tech world with new coursesNew Era College of Arts, Science and Technology has introduced two new degree programmes “to respond to the skills shortage in Botswana’s business economy,” said Gagan Chawlar, the college’s communications person. Read More
Technology transfer to boost water supply and sewerage servicesAs part of the African Development Bank’s efforts to increase the transfer of technologies and skills to the African continent, Malinne Blomberg, Chief Financial Analyst in AfDB’s Water and Sanitation Department, joined the wide range of stakeholders including technology providers, venture capitalists, private equity firms, and engineering, procurement ... Read More
Airtel Ghana walks the talk on women’s empowermentAirtel Ghana has earmarked March as International Women’s Month under the theme, “Make it Happen!” Read More
FEATURED STORYe-commerce space untapped, says phonekings head
E-commerce is the future, says the head of a new online electronics mall launched in Nigeria. Tayo Olusanya spoke to Kokumo Goodie in Lagos.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHVillagers get solar training at Barefoot College
The Botswana Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) has seconded seven semi-illiterate mostly Ngwatle villagers for a six month solar electrification training course at the famed Barefoot College in India.