Volume 17, No.06 - June 2013

Feature articles

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.

For more information:

Google+ Hangout “Innovate Your Future: Empower Young Women through Technology” (6 June, 2pm EDT)

Share ideas and questions with ECOSOC on Facebook ahead of this hangout

Show support for youth worldwide on Thunderclap

ECOSOC’s Innovate Your Future Campaign

Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

ITU – ITU (International Telecommunication Union)

UN Google+ page

Watch live event marking Rio+20 anniversary

Last year, people from across the globe came together at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). They decided on a broad range of measures to achieve a more sustainable future. One year later, the momentum for action remains strong. Tune in for a live Google+ hangout on 13 June with DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo, to mark the one year anniversary of this milestone event.

Rio+20 was the largest UN conference ever, bringing together 50,000 people representing governments, civil society, media and academia. The Conference adopted the historic outcome document -The Future We Want. Over 1300 voluntary commitments were made since the Rio+20 Conference took place.

Celebrating the one year anniversary, DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Mr. Wu Hongbo is bringing together a high-level panel of participants involved in realizing the commitments made, in facilitating the intergovernmental discussions on sustainable development goals and in ensuring an inclusive process involving all nine major groups.

Mr. Wu encourages everyone to “Find out what actions have been taken since Rio+20”. He invites the online community to watch the live event on 13 June at 11 am EDT and to submit questions in advance using the Twitter hashtag #SDinAction. The event will offer valuable insights into the work currently carried out to ensure a successful path towards the future we want.

Taking place on the UN Google+ page, the event will be moderated by Mr. Nikhil Seth, Director of DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development and former Head of the Rio+20 Secretariat. It will feature panelists including representatives who are actively involved in the General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, as well as representatives from the Major Groups.

Sustainable development goals

One of the main results of Rio+20 was the agreement to develop a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs). The conference did not elaborate on specific goals, but stated that the SDGs should be limited in number, action-oriented, concise, easy to communicate, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable.

The inter-governmental Open Working Group mandated to submit a proposal for sustainable development goals for consideration and appropriate action to the 68th Session of the General Assembly was established in January of this year and is co-chaired by the Permanent Representatives of Kenya and Hungary. With representatives from the Open Working Group participating in the hangout, it will offer an update on where we are in the discussions on these goals.

“The SDGs have the potential for accelerating and continuing the work begun with the MDGs. They will also take into account the long-term sustainability of poverty eradication and development outcomes, in all countries across the world,” said Mr. Wu, as the working group met earlier this spring.

Ensuring an inclusive process towards the future we want

Since the first Earth Summit in 1992, it was recognized that sustainable development could not be achieved by governments alone. Reflected in the outcome document from that event, “Agenda 21″, the need to harness expertise and capacity from all sectors of society and all types of people was underscored.

There are today nine major groups representing children and youth; business and industry; farmers; indigenous peoples; local authorities; NGOs; the scientific and technological community; women and workers and trade unions. Side by side with UN agencies, Member States and other international stakeholders, they are working to ensure that we stay on course towards a more sustainable future.

“We have embarked on a historic journey. It will not be easy. In fact, if there is something we can already agree on, it is that this journey will be arduous. Difficult as it is, we will reach our shared destination. We owe this to our children and grandchildren. We have the historic responsibility and the opportunity to contribute to a better world for them. Let us seize that opportunity,” concluded Mr. Wu as he addressed the open working group earlier this spring.

Be sure to watch the hangout event on 13 June at 11 am EDT and listen to the live discussion with Mr. Wu and the representatives from the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, as well as from the Major Groups.

Get engaged. Get involved. And be inspired. Join the debate and make changes happen.

For more information:

One year after Rio+20 – Google+ Hangout on 13 June

UN Google+ page

UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform

General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals

Major groups

Rio+20 Outcome document “The Future We Want”

Awards to celebrate excellence in public service


Hundreds of participants are expected to witness the most prestigious international recognition of innovation in public service at the United Nations Public Service Forum, Day and Awards Ceremony, to be held in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, from 24 to 27 June.

To have a strong, efficient, and professional public service is one of the key factors in the development process. One way to promote good practices is to recognize initiatives behind innovation, improvement and implementation of groundbreaking projects in the delivery of public services.

Since 2003, the United Nations Public Service Awards, given each year on 23 June, the day designated by the General Assembly as United Nations Public Service Day to “celebrate the value and virtue of service to the community”, have recognized and promoted the role, professionalism and visibility of public administration and fostered improvements in public administration worldwide.

Nominations are open to public organizations of all kinds, including governments and public-private partnerships, in delivering public services. It rewards the creative achievements and contributions of public service institutions that lead to a more effective and responsive public administration in countries worldwide.

Highlights from 2012

Last year, several initiatives were honored. Among them were the New York 311 initiative and a law that was approved in India to make requests from citizens to local authorities clearer and faster.

The 311 initiative consisted of a telephone number to guide people to get their demands solved. The initiative has had a direct impact on reducing the time needed for solutions and has reduced waste of state capacity when wrongly contacted. Saadia Chaudryl, Call Center Director, said that “when citizens don’t know what agency to call to get help, they call us, and in some cases 311 talks to the agencies for them”.

The Public Service Delivery Management Act, enacted by the Government of Madhya Pradesh, India, provides that public services should be delivered within a certain time frame, and when this does not happen, administrative personnel are fined and citizens can contact higher authorities to get their problem solved. It has had a positive impact on reducing time for delivering public services and made the system more transparent and accountable.

The 2013 Awards

This year, the award puts a spotlight on five categories:

1. Preventing and combating corruption in the public service
2. Improving the delivery of public services,
3. Fostering participation in public policy decision-making through innovative mechanisms
4. Promoting whole-of-government approaches in the information age
5. Promoting gender-responsive delivery of public services.

In each of these categories initiatives are awarded by region: Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Asia.

The initiatives that have won this year’s awards have been recently announced, and among them there are projects to increase transparency in the decision-making process in Moldova, to provide children in Peru with ID cards and the creation of a Government Contact Centre in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Each year the winners of the UN Public Service Awards are selected from the finalists in each category and region by the United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration, and this year will be recognized for their achievements on the last day of the Forum at the Awards Ceremony. The event will take place in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, from 24 to 27 June.

The Forum, which this year will focus on the theme of “Transformative e-Government and Innovation: Creating a Better Future for All”, is organized by DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) and the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain, in partnership with UN-WOMEN and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA).

For more information:

United Nations Public Service Forum

UN Public Service Forum up close