UN Women and ITU panel: Why Women in Tech Matter

Date: 10 March 2017

“Why Women in Tech Matter?” will be the theme of the panel discussion jointly organized by ITU (the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies) and UN Women on 11 March, in Austin, Texas, in the context of the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference. This will be the first time ever that UN agencies are organizing this prestigious event that celebrates the convergence of interactive, film and music industries.

The panel will be moderated by Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Chief of ITU's Strategic Planning and Membership Department, and will feature the inspiring young woman Niamh Scanlon, who was named the European Digital Girl of the Year in 2015; along with Unoma Okorafor, founder and CEO of Working to Advance STEM Education for African Women (WAAW) Foundation; Yannick Glemarec, UN Women Deputy Executive Director; and American entrepreneur William Hurley, commonly known as “whurley”, who is one of the driving forces behind the EQUALS initiative—a global partnership for gender equality in the digital age.

The panel will discuss issues ranging from the fact that the tech sector employs fewer women than other private sector industries, to ways of encouraging more girls and women to participate in the ICT sector.  Key questions will include: What are the current barriers facing women in the technology industry; what initiatives are being led by companies and international organizations to address gender balance in ICT industry; and Why roles models are important to inspire more girls to enter the world of technology.

ICTs can provide women and girls education and job training, promote literacy and improve access to health care, while increasing their opportunities to exercise their rights and participation in government. Yet, the digital gender gap is in fact increasing.  To unlock the full potential of this sector, women need to be equipped with education, training and entrepreneurial skills, and only then can they full leverage economic opportunities and outcomes on an equal footing to men.

Bridging the gender digital divide is one of the main aims of the EQUALS partnership, which will be a discussion theme at the panel. EQUALS aim to bring about change to the industry to ensure women and girls are equal participants in the technology revolution.