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ITU's Bogdan-Martin calls for improved gender equality in ICT

By , Africa editor
Africa , 25 Apr 2024
ITU secretary-general Doreen Bogdan-Martin.
ITU secretary-general Doreen Bogdan-Martin.

‘Must do better’. That was the clarion call from International Telecommunications Union (ITU) secretary-general Doreen Bogdan-Martin, who, in marking International Girls in ICT Day, has called for gender parity in the ICT sector,

In her speech to commemorate the day, Bogdan-Martin says the ICT sector must nurture and empower female talent as well as increasing board and management representation.

Celebrated on the fourth Thursday in April, International Girls in ICT Day has been designated to create awareness on the need for more women in the ICT sector.

In her statement, Bogdan-Martin says: “Our future is digital and we need women to lead it. Today, as we mark International Girls in ICT Day, we stand at the crossroads of a pivotal era. Less than a quarter of all ministers for information and communication technologies are women.

“Only 32 out of 165 ICT regulators are led by a woman. In the private sector, women technologists occupy less than a third of positions, where they face a 21 per cent pay gap. These are not mere statistics, but a call to action.

“We must prepare young women and girls to become tomorrow's visionary women leaders. That is why this year's theme is ‘Leadership’,” she said.

“Over a decade ago, ITU launched Girls in ICT to inspire young women to explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

“It is now a global movement and a vital platform for addressing the barriers still facing women in the tech world, especially in emerging fields ranging from artificial intelligence to quantum computing.”

Bogdan-Martin says unequal representation can result in flawed product and service design, bias in machine learning, as well as exclusionary policy and decision-making.

“As the first woman secretary-general of the ITU in its 160-year history, I know how hard it is to break the glass ceiling. For me, leadership is more than holding a job title or position of power. It is about harnessing the power of ideas and innovation to spark transformative change,” she says.

Last year, Bogdan-Martin became the ITU's 12th secretary-general, and the first woman to head the agency since its establishment in 1865. Prior to her election, Bogdan-Martin served as in the director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau since 2019.

In her statement today, she notes: “In a world where women still account for a disproportionate and growing share of the global offline population, gender equality is an urgent necessity. We cannot build the innovative, safe and sustainable digital future we need without half of humanity.”

Bogdan-Martin called on the international community to encourage more young women to take up STEM careers and bridge the digital divide once and for all. 

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