play a catalytic role in creating opportunities for people in every
walk of life, especially for those among us who are vulnerable and
disadvantaged, while providing the framework for long-term sustainable
This year, on World Telecommunication and Information Society
Day, we are determined to harness the full potential of ICTs for the
benefit of women and girls by eliminating gender disparities and
empowering them to meet their goals and aspirations. The theme of this
year’s WTISD, “Women and Girls in ICT”, aims to ensure that this
significant, female half of the world’s population will march forward as
Women are the bedrock of our societies. They are the pillars
of strength in every family and community. Yet gender inequalities
remain deeply entrenched. Women and girls are denied access to basic
health care and education and to equal opportunities at work. They face
segregation in economic, political and social decision-making and often
suffer violence and discrimination.
This situation is unacceptable and we must address it with all the means available to us.
Gender equality is a basic human right enshrined in the UN
Charter, and it is one of the main objectives of the UN Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs). ICTs are tools that can help accelerate
progress towards achieving this target, and it is for this reason that
ITU Council proposed that we focus our efforts this year on women and
girls, using the power of ICTs to provide new digital opportunities to
end discrimination and empower women and girls to achieve their rightful
place as equals in the world. This effort with ICTs must begin not only
from the cradle, but from antenatal health care, reaching out to the
remotest communities through telemedicine and other means ― with every
mother, every girl and every woman guaranteed her birthright.
I call upon ITU Member States, Sector Members and Associates
as well as academia and citizens’ groups to pull together every
conceivable resource to ensure that women and girls in every community
around the world have full access to ICTs in order to empower them with
information and knowledge, to know their rights, and to seize every
available digital opportunity.
I also call upon our other partners and stakeholders ―
political leaders, policy makers, regulators, operators, industry and
civil society ― to adopt policies and strategies that will promote ICT
opportunities for women and girls. National governments,
private sector, donors, civil society and educationists need to
acknowledge and support the central role professional women can play in
further developing and servicing a dynamic and competitive ICT sector.
The growing demand for a range of ICT skills around the globe present a
unique window of opportunity to properly position girls and women in the
industry and provide them with the tools necessary to succeed.
ICT sector in particular can pave the way by providing avenues of
advancement to professional women at the highest echelons of decision
making and by encouraging young women to seek new careers within the
I urge you to celebrate World Telecommunication and
Information Society Day this year by paying particular attention to the
special needs of women and girls, extending to them the benefits of ICTs
so as to create a paradigm shift in opportunities offered now and in
the future. An egalitarian and just society is the basis for a peaceful
and prosperous world.