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ITU, UN Women celebrate outstanding projects and leaders using ICTs to transform women¹s lives

by david.nunes

ITU, UN Women celebrate outstanding projects
and leaders using ICTs to transform women’s lives

Annual GEM-TECH Award winners highlight key role of technology
in advancing women’s empowerment, health & education

New York, 14 December, 2015 – Three outstanding organizations and three distinguished individuals leading projects and advocacy to boost gender equality and women’s empowerment using information and communication technologies (ICTs) will be honoured at a ceremony in New York today as recipients of the annual ITU/UN Women GEM-TECH Awards.

Jointly organized by UN agencies ITU and UN Women, the awards recognize the tremendous power of ICTs to transform women’s lives by providing them with better access to education, information, support networks, employment opportunities, avenues for political participation, and devices and apps that can improve personal safety. The awards are celebrated this year as part of the 20-year commemoration of the Beijing Platform for Action.

The three GEM-TECH winners and three Global Achievers will receive their awards at a ceremony held this evening at Civic Hall in New York, in partnership with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation and generously sponsored by Mozilla, Microsoft, the Swiss Federal Office of Communications, Verizon and Facebook. The awards will be presented by ITU Deputy Secretary-General, Malcolm Johnson, and UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Lakshmi Puri.

The 2015 GEM-TECH winners are:

Promoting women in the technology sector

Winner: Technovation Challenge, USA.

Applying technology for women’s empowerment

Winner: The Research Center of Communication and Development Knowledge Management (CCDKM), Thailand.

Developing gender responsive ICT governance, policy and access

Winner: The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Senegal.

The three GEM-TECH Global Achievers recognized and honoured for their exceptional efforts to boost women’s empowerment through ICTs are:

  • Anusha Rehman Khan, Minister of State for IT and Telecommunications, Pakistan
  • Pamela Hamamoto, Ambassador, US Mission to the United Nations, Geneva
  • Nancy Hafkin, Senior Associate, Women in Global Science and Technology, USA.

Watch a video profiling this year’s winners here, and read about their achievements here.

The 2015 GEM-TECH awards attracted nearly 150 nominations from government, the private sector, academia and civil society from 55 countries. Online nominations were open from 28 May to 31 July, and attracted a wide range of projects and advocacy work linked to harnessing ICTs for women’s empowerment. A full list of finalists is available here, and a video profiling the finalists can be viewed here.

Ahead of tonight’s ceremony in New York, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said: “We know that ICTs can help redress many development gaps, particularly in areas like access to education and health care. This in turn impacts on women’s opportunities and on key SDG indicators like maternal and child health. ITU applauds these outstanding organizations and individuals for their commitment and success in ICT-based women’s empowerment”.

Speaking about the awards, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: “The surge in the number of entrants for this award is a positive indication of the increasing profile of women in STEM. The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to which all the countries of the UN have signed up, explicitly targets enhanced use of enabling technologies to promote women’s empowerment. These awards underline just how much talent there is ready to do just that, showcasing some of the best practices which advance women’s empowerment and digital inclusion.”

Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York, Minerva Tantoco, said: “The ICT industry can provide economic opportunity for women not only to participate in but drive the digital economy. We believe that technology can be a force multiplier for social good, and these winners are inspiring examples of using technology to promote gender equality and empower women. The Mayor’s Office of Technology & Innovation is proud to partner with ITU and UN Women to celebrate these projects.”

ITU has a long-standing commitment to ‘gender and technology’ issues. Among other activities, ITU’s Girls in ICT Day, which takes place annually on the fourth Thursday in April, encourages young women and girls to pursue a career in ICT, and has to date reached over 177,000 girls through more than 5,300 events in over 150 countries. ITU’s Special Envoy on Women and Girls in ICT is award winning actor and advocate, Geena Davis.

UN Women’s efforts in advancing women’s rights and gender equality through ICTs include dozens of national level programmes that advance girls and women’s digital literacy and capacities, apply technology to support women’s livelihoods, make quality education more accessible to adolescent girls, prevent and respond to violence against women, and  promote social mobilization and women’s political participation. UN Women also advocates for gender and ICT linkages within global frameworks and national ICT and gender related strategies.

The inaugural GEM-TECH Awards were presented at ITU’s 2014 Plenipotentiary Conference held in Busan, Republic of Korea. There, seven individuals and organizations from around the world won awards for promoting gender equality and mainstreaming through ICTs.

Follow the GEM-TECH news on Twitter #GEMtechAwards

About ITU
ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technologies, driving innovation in ICTs together with 193 Member States and a membership of over 700 private sector entities and academic institutions. Established in 1865, ITU celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2015 as the intergovernmental body responsible for coordinating the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoting international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, improving communication infrastructure in the developing world, and establishing the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems. From broadband networks to cutting-edge wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, oceanographic and satellite-based earth monitoring as well as converging fixed-mobile phone, Internet and broadcasting technologies, ITU is committed to connecting the world. www.itu.int

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