Meeting-cum-Training Workshop on


Strengthening the capacity of national machineries through the effective use of ICTs


Windhoek, Namibia

19-23 April 2004



Ms. Carolyn Hannan, Director

Division for the Advancement of Women

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs



Your Excellency, Madame Minister,

Distinguished participants,

Representatives of United Nations agencies.

Colleagues and friends.



            It is my great pleasure to welcome you to this meeting-cum-training workshop on strengthening the capacity of national machineries through the effective use of ICTs. This event is organized by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, in collaboration with the United Nations Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Task Force Secretariat within the Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination.


            I would like to begin by extending my deep appreciation to the Government of Namibia for hosting this meeting-cum-training workshop. Namibia has for many years been a strong advocate for gender equality, particularly in mainstreaming gender perspectives in peace and security issues. We all recall it was under the leadership of Namibia that the first open discussion on “Women, Peace and Security” was organized in the Security Council, which led to the adoption of the landmark resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in October 2000.


My special thanks goes to Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Minister of Women’s  Affairs and Child Welfare, for her unwavering support to gender equality and the advancement of women at national, regional and global levels, and to her staff for all the support provided during the preparation of the workshop. I would like to particularly recognize Dr. Ndahafa Nghifindaka, Director in the Ministry for Women’s Affairs and Child Welfare. I also extend my gratitude to other government officials who are here with us today, for the interest shown in this important event. I am confident that your active participation will contribute to the successful outcome of the meeting-cum-workshop.


I am delighted to welcome the participants from Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe who have travelled to Windhoek to share their experiences and insights, learn from each other and establish a network enhancing information sharing in the future. The high calibre of the participants illustrates the firm commitment of your Governments to further strengthen the capacity of national machineries through enhancing access to and use of information and communications technologies to achieve the goal of gender equality.


I also extend my gratitude to Ms. Jacqui Badcock, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Namibia, and her staff for the excellent collaboration in the organization of this workshop. I thank Ms. Moji Okuribido-Seriki, UNESCO, for agreeing to join us at the opening of the meeting on behalf of the United Nations entities in Namibia. I welcome the representative of the Economic Commission for Africa, our institutional partner in activities in the African region, Ms. Atsuko Okuda. My thanks go also to Ms. Christine Warioba of SADC, who brings the valuable perspectives of this community to our meeting.


Last but not least, I would like to welcome the most capable team of facilitators and resource persons who will guide you through these five days of work. I recognize the team leader Ms.Claudy Vouhe and her team, Ms. Jennifer Radloff, Ms. Nadia Taher, Mr. Julien Walker, Ms. Sally Shackleton and Ms. Immaculata Mgoti. We are also fortunate to have with us resource persons who are specialists in gender and ICT and who have been actively involved in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process, Ms. Rita Mijumbi-Epodi, Ms Chat Ramilo and Ms. Anne Walker.


This meeting in Namibia is the first in a series of five such events the Division for the Advancement of Women is organizing for national machineries throughout Africa. This first meeting is critical in that it will develop the approach and methodology to be utilized in subsequent events. For this reason we have a large number of experts with us on gender equality, gender mainstreaming, national machineries and media and ICT. I am sure that the wealth of expertise and experience gathered here will ensure a dynamic process and excellent outcome.


Distinguished participants,


            The United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women is mandated, in its small technical cooperation programme, to support Governments to implement the recommendations arising from the Fourth World Conference on Women and its follow-up. As part of this effort, we work closely with national machineries for the advancement of women to enhance their capacity to implement the commitments of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the outcome document of the 2000 review (Beijing +5). An important part of this work is supporting the capacity to act as catalysts for gender mainstreaming, influencing the work of line ministries and other key actors.


            The importance of ICTs and the media as tools for development, and as central to the empowerment of women, was highlighted during the 47th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2003. The role of media and ICTs in increasing the sharing of knowledge, enhancing participationfacilitating networking, giving greater voice to marginalized groups, and facilitating political action was emphasized. Issues of access as well as content were addressed in the agreed conclusions adopted by the Commission. Participants called for research on women’s information needs and the production of context-specific content in local languages. One of the recommended actions was to strengthen the capacity of national machineries for the advancement of women to take a lead advocacy role with respect to media and ICTs and gender equality, and support their involvement in national, regional and international processes related to media and ICT issues, as well as enhance coordination among ministries responsible for ICTs, national machineries for the advancement of women, the private sector and gender advocacy NGOs within countries.


            For this reason, we are particularly pleased to have the possibility to collaborate with the United Nations Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Task Force in this work. The United Nations ICT Task Force was set up by the Secretary-General in 2001 to look at issues regarding ICT for development. It has a diverse membership with representatives from Governments, private corporations as well as civil society organizations. This multi-stakeholder model has made the taskforce one of the most respected authorities on issues concerning the digital divide and the use of ICT in development. Collaboration with this Task Force will provide us with access to expertise in the preparation, implementation and follow-up of the series of meetings being held with National Machineries throughout Africa.


The ICT Taskforce is committed to assist developing countries in making full use of the opportunities for development offered by ICT. Collaboration on this project is also a means to ensure that the ICT Taskforce takes gender perspectives systematically into account in its work. The Business Plan of the ICT Taskforce for 2004 focuses on monitoring and benchmarking progress on the application of ICT for the development goals of the World Summit on the Information Society; promoting a dialogue on internet governance and other policy issues; and encouraging governments, development agencies, international financing institutions, consumers and the private sector to create an enabling environment for the deployment of ICT. There are also a number of active Task Forces, including on Global eSchools and Communities Initiatives; Wireless Internet Opportunities for Developing Nations; and the Digital Diaspora Networks. Bringing gender perspectives into these areas of work of the Taskforce will be critical for effective use of ICT for equality, development and peace.


            This meeting, and the subsequent meetings in other sub-regions in Africa, will provide important inputs to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to be held in Tunis in 2005. Efforts were made by Member States, the United Nations system and NGOs to bring attention to the gender perspectives in the preparations for the first meeting of WSIS held in Geneva in 2003. Among other things, briefing notes were prepared by the UN Interagency Network on Women and Gender Equality  and copies will be made available to you. We are fortunate to have some of the NGO representatives who were part of that process with us this week, and you will hear more about the efforts and the achievements in the context of WSIS later in the programme.


            The meeting is also very timely in the context of the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action which is to take place in the Commission on the Status of Women in 2005. This review and appraisal will focus on achievements as well as gaps and  in implementation at national level. An important part of the work will be reviewing the institutional mechanisms put in place by Governments to support implementation of the Platform for Action. The national machineries for the advancement of women are one important mechanism. The outcome of this meeting and the other sub-regional meetings will provide important input to the review and appraisal process.


Distinguished participants,


            The objective of the meeting/training workshop is to bring together policy makers and information specialists to identify information needs and information sources at national, sub-regional, regional, and international levels. The meeting aims to assist national machineries to develop strategies to effectively use ICTs to advocate for successful gender equality policies, act as catalysts for systematic gender mainstreaming in all policies and programmes and undertake effective monitoring and reporting on progress. Practical training will also be provided to information managers to support networking and partnership among national machineries, including through creating and e-based network of national machineries. A prototype website for national machineries will be discussed and developed during this meeting.


            We do recognize that national machineries in the region will have different levels of access to and capacity to use ICTs, particularly the newer electronic forms, and this will be taken into account in the meeting. We appreciate the need to keep in mind the value of traditional media, while working to enhance access to and use of new media. I am sure that the need to keep this balance will come up in the discussions in the coming days.


            During the week, participants will have opportunity to share experiences, exchange good practives, identify gaps and challenges, and should develop a common strategy on the use of ICTs for advocacy, policy development, gender mainstreaming at different levels, information sharing, and production of information on achieving the goal of gender equality.


            I am sure that our collaborative efforts at this meeting will ensure an excellent outcome for this sub-region, and will contribute substantially to the development of successful meetings in other sub-regions of Africa. In the Division for the Advancement of Women , we look forward to the day when we can communicate electronically with you on important developments at global, regional and national levels and get your direct inputs and feedback into our work. This meeting is an important step in that direction.


            Thank you.