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
KitsoWorks holds stakeholder engagement sessionThe implementing partners of Botswana's KitsoWorks initiative are working on scaling up the youth empowerment pilot project. Read More
New i2i initiative to draw customer data for better financial servicesThe Mastercard Foundation has launched a $9.6 million Initiative with Finmark Trust and Cenfri to provide better aggregated data to help financial service providers respond more appropriately to banking needs of poor clients. Read More
Airtel Kenya, First Lady launch mobile clinic in Embu countyAirtel Kenta CEO Adil El Youssefi yesterday joined Her Excellency the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta for the official handover ceremony of the Airtel funded 34th “Beyond Zero” mobile clinic to Embu County. Read More
Schneider Electric launches 2016 graduate programmeSchneider Electric South Africa has launched a graduate programme for those students who want to become world-class engineers in the field of energy management. Read More
Airtel Ghana wins CSR excellence awardAirtel Ghana has been named Best CSR Company for Education at the 5th Ghana CSR Excellence Awards. Read More
COMESA, Microsoft collaborate to promote access, skills and innovation in 19 African countriesCOMESA, through the COMESA Business Council (CBC) and Microsoft, have taken a step toward strengthening their working alliance by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which sets out how they will collaborate in the areas of access to technology, development of relevant skills and the fostering of innovation in COMESA ... Read More
MainOne upgrades school ICT labIn line with its vision to improve broadband penetration across Nigeria, MainOne has given a facelift to the ICT Laboratory of Herbert Macaulay Girls Secondary School, in Yaba, Lagos. Read More
MTN Cameroon wins ‘’Y’ello Care” challenge againFor the third time in four years, MTNC has emerged as the top OPCO of the MTN Group in the domain of CSR. Read More
Shelter 4 Education makes dreams come alive at EjuraA new school block has been built by Tigo Ghana for the people of Ejura. Read More
Samsung Electronics East Africa boosts fight against maternal and child mortalitySamsung Electronics East Africa has announced a partnership with VSO Jitolee to launch an ICT solution that will improve maternal and child health care. Read More
FEATURED STORYeCommerce in Africa urged to take advantage of mobile
The Executive Chairman of Alltel has urged operators of eCommerce in Ghana and Africa as a whole to take advantage of the current trend for Africans to trade online via their mobile handsets.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHNigeria needs $25b investment in broadband, says Wood
Telecoms executive Adrian Wood speaks to Kokumo Goodie about investment potential in Nigeria.