Geena Davis joins hangout to empower young women through technology

Around the globe, women are less likely than men to have access to technology. This is a gap that exists in developing and developed countries alike. With an aim to address this issue and propose ways to empower young women, ECOSOC and ITU are hosting a Google+ Hangout on 6 June featuring Academy Award winning Actor and ITU Special Envoy for Women and Girls in ICT, Ms. Geena Davis.

This year, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is putting a spotlight on “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the MDGs”, as part of its Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) taking place during the Council’s annual meeting in Geneva this July.

Ahead of this major event, the Council is making every effort to bring the voices of youth into the important discussions and decisions to take place in Geneva, through its major online campaign “Innovate Your Future”, featured on Facebook, Twitter and Thunderclap. The campaign seeks worldwide support to help empower youth and shape future innovators.

Turning the spotlight on women and girls

As part of this campaign, ECOSOC is teaming up with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), to host a Google+ Hangout on 6 June at 2pm EDT (6pm GMT), featuring Ms. Geena Davis, founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need for gender balance, reducing stereotyping and creating a wide variety of female characters for entertainment targeting children.

Moderated by Gary Fowlie, Head of the liaison office of ITU in New York, the Hangout “Innovate Your Future: Empower Young Women through Technology”, will gather a number of prominent panelists for a live discussion on the UN Google+ platform, highlighting the potential of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in advancing gender equality and in contributing to bridging the digital divide between women and men.

In her capacity as Special Envoy and through her pioneering work at the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Ms. Davis has become a powerful global voice on the importance of gender equality in media and the empowering potential of technology for women and girls.

“The stark gender inequality in media aimed at children is of significant importance to our discussion on women and girls in ICTs, as TV and movies can yield enormous influence on young children as they are developing their idea of their role in society, and thinking about career choices,” Ms. Davis said in her acceptance speech as she was awarded the 2012 ITU World Telecommunication and Information Society Award last year.

Ms. Davis also underscored the opportunities to empower women and girls using ICTs. “Improving media images is just one facet of empowering women and girls. Real and significant change in the status of women and girls is already underway and I believe ICT will lead the way toward equality,” she said. In her capacity as Special Envoy, Ms. Davis is also promoting the ITU Tech Needs Girls campaign, a three-year initiative seeking to raise global awareness of the role ICTs can play in empowering women.

Spurring gender equality in ICTs

Other panelists who will join Ms. Davis on 6 June include Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth; Ms. Doreen Bogdan, Chief Strategic Planning and Membership, ITU; Ms. Stacy Martinet, Chief Marketing Officer, Mashable; and Ms. Blair Christie, Senior Vice-President, Government Affairs & Global Corporate Communications of Cisco.

In addition to discussing the role of media, other topics for the live hangout will include the promotion of female participation in the ICT sector, establishing access through better infrastructure and the vital role of education, tapping into the potentials within this field.

“Women’s access to ICTs and particularly broadband must be made a key pillar of the post-2015 global development agenda,” Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General and co-Vice Chair of the Commission, said as a new target was adopted by the UN Broadband Commission to get more women connected to ICTs, mandating ‘gender equality in broadband access by the year 2020’.

Dr. Touré pointed to figures from ITU and other agencies showing 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,” he said.

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