16 May 2012 A South American leader, the head of a Chinese telecommunications company and a United States actress today received a United Nations award recognizing their efforts to the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) to empower women and girls.
The recipients of this year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Award were President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina, the chairperson of the Chinese company Huawei, Sun Yafang, and a United States Oscar-winning actress and human rights advocate, Geena Davis.
The award was presented at a ceremony in Geneva, and ties in with the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which is observed on 17 May, and the theme for which this year is ‘Women and Girls in ICT.’ Organized by the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the chosen theme is aimed at extending digital opportunities by providing avenues for advancement to professional women at the highest echelons of decision-making, and by encouraging young women to seek new careers within the sector.
In remarks at the ceremony, ITU’s Secretary-General, Hamadoun Touré, emphasized that gender equality is a basic human right and one of the main objectives of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“We are focusing our efforts this year on women and girls, using the power of information and communication technologies to provide new digital opportunities to end discrimination, and to empower women and girls to participate fully in society,” said Mr. Touré.
“Girls and young women with ICT skills will find jobs that offer creativity, innovation, and entirely new ways of working,” he added. “And encouraging girls into the technology industry will create a positive feedback loop – in turn creating inspiring role models for the next generation.”
In a message on mark the Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for efforts to close both the digital divide and the gender gap, stressing that everyone must have the opportunity to make the best use of information and communications technology to shape their own future.
There are a total of eight MDGs, ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015. They form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions and have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.
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