Friday, October 18, 2013

Agenda for Women and ICTs Takes Centre Stage at CTO Forum 2013

Agenda for Women and ICTs Takes Centre Stage at CTO Forum 2013 

London, 17 October 2013 -The 2013 Forum becomes most gender-balanced CTO event ever, with women representing almost 40% of the conference speakers.

Issues faced by women in accessing or using ICTs took centre stage last week during the 2013 CTO Forum held in Abuja, Nigeria. Nearly 40% of speakers at the event were women, making this year’s Forum the most gender-balanced event ever organised by the CTO.

“Many women continue to be marginalised significantly in their access and use of ICTs. Unfortunately, they also often tend to be underrepresented at international ICT events, and the CTO is making every effort to ensure that this imbalance is redressed. During the event, we learned a great deal from real life accounts of how unavailability or inadequacy of ICTs impacts women’s education or health, but more importantly we also heard much about innovative initiatives that have sought to change this”, said Professor Tim Unwin, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO).

The high-level presence of women was felt throughout the event, not least through the presence of The Honourable Omobola Johnson, Nigeria’s Minister of Communication Technology representing the host country Nigeria, but also through industry leaders of the likes of Funke Opeke, Chief Executive Officer of Main One Cable, a major submarine cable company present on the West African coast.

In addition, and for the first time during this annual event, an entire session was devoted to the theme of Women, Empowerment and ICTs, with panellists including:
  • Nkechi Nwaogu, Senator, Federal Republic of Nigeria
  • Lolia Emakpore, Director of Policy, Competition and Economic Analysis and the Nigerian Communications Commission
  • Ebele Okobi, Global Head for Business and Human Rights Programme, Yahoo!
  • Dr Dorothy Okello, Founder, Women of Uganda Network
  • Martha Omoekpen Alade, Chairperson, Women in Technology in Nigeria
  • Dr Marianne Treschow, CTO Ambassador and Senior Advisor to the Ericsson Group; and
  • Dr Salma Abbasi, Founder, Chairperson and CEO, e Worldwide Group.
Various social, cultural and economic factors hinder women’s effective use of ICTs and, at the same time, they are not sufficiently represented at decision-making fora on ICTs. In particular, illiteracy was seen as a major obstacle to women making greater use of ICTs. Health-related issues and how ICTs can provide useful alternatives were also discussed.  One innovative solution presented was the use of social online fora by young pregnant women to compensate for the lack of ante-natal family advice, support and care.

Equal and affordable access to ICTs by women and other marginalised groups is critical for economic and social development in CTO member countries and this is why the CTO focuses on areas such as ICTs for people with disabilities, youth, entrepreneurship, and education.

For more information, please contact Marcel Belingue at m.belingue@cto.int or call +44 20 8600 3816.

Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation 


With a history dating back to 1901, the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation is the oldest and largest Commonwealth organisation in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), and uses its experience and expertise to support members in using ICTs to deliver effective development interventions that emancipate, enrich, equalise and empower all peoples within the Commonwealth and beyond. 

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