Broadband access key to gender MDGs
DEVELOPMENTBy BiztechAfrica - 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
China donates $800,000 in solar street lights to KCCAThe Chinese government has officially handed over solar street lamps to Uganda’s KCCA at a ceremony at the Kampala Serena Hotel. Read More
Samsung volunteers build homes in MalawiA team of 28 Samsung volunteers rolled up their sleeves to construct three homes, a computer lab and a solar-powered cinema for the village in the area of Traditional Authority Tsabango in Lilongwe District, Malawi. Read More
Schneider Electric backs winning solar projectsThe “Rhome for DenCity” and “Phileas” projects sponsored by Schneider Electric have won the 1st and 2nd prizes at the Solar Decathlon Europe 2014. Read More
Chinese Embassy provides ICT Lab for school in Volta RegionThe Chinese Ambassador to Ghana has donated an ICT laboratory to HO Bankoe Philip-Akpo Memorial Junior High School (JHS) in the Volta Region of Ghana. Read More
AfDB strategy focuses on human capital development across AfricaThe Board of Executive Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) says its new Human Capital Strategy for Africa paves the way for Bank investments in areas such as education, skills development, health, science and technology. Read More
Botswana college signs MoU with SwazilandThe Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Swaziland has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Botswana’s Boitekanelo College to formalise bilateral cooperation. Read More
SAP takes steps to empower millennials at SACLA 2014SAP Africa will today be represented at SACLA (the southern African Computer Lecturers Association) 2014 event, which is being hosted by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa. Read More
Canon SA expands solar projectOver 250 needy residents in the South African communities of Orange Farm, Khatorus and New Jerusalem will soon benefit from the free, unlimited and clean power of the sun to light-up their homes thanks to the CANON Segametsi SOLAR Light Project 2014. Read More
MTN Cameroon wraps up 21 days of Y’ello careThe curtains were drawn on the eighth edition of 21 Days of Y’ello Care last Saturday, with the conviction of all MTN Cameroon staff that their contribution to promote education for all will really change lives. Read More
ITU Telecom World 2014 outlines forward-looking agendaForum discussions at the upcoming ITU Telecom World 2014 event in Doha, Qatar, will delve deep into the driving forces behind the ongoing radical transformation of the ICT industry. Read More
FEATURED STORYWidening ICT skills gap: Cause for concern
Nigeria's FDI gains could be eroded by the widening gap in indigenous skilled ICT manpower, writes Kokumo Goodie.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHKenya rolls out e-extension to improve agriculture
In a bid to curb the overwhelmed number of agricultural extension officers in Kenya, the ministry of agriculture is embracing technology with their introduction of E-Extension services, which are aimed at reaching out to over 7 million farmers annually.