ITU, UN Women celebrate power of technology to transform women’s lives

Inaugural GEM-TECH Awards bring winners from around the world to Busan, Korea to highlight transformative power of ICTs


Busan — Seven outstanding individuals and organizations that are harnessing the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to boost gender empowerment were honoured on 28 October as recipients of the first-ever Gender Equality Mainstreaming–Technology (GEM-TECH) Awards.

The awards were granted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-General Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré before some 2,500 delegates at a special ceremony during the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, in Busan, in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Leading Korean TV personality Sohn Jie-Ae, of CEO of Korea’s Arirang TV English-language network, introduced the event.

Co-organized with UN Women, the GEM-TECH Awards recognize the outstanding achievements of organizations and individuals in the area of women’s empowerment, through ICT. More than 360 nominations were submitted from more than 70 countries around the world following the launch of the awards in June. The awards are open to individual women and men contributors, as well as organizations working in the field of ICT and gender.

The seven GEM-TECH Award-winners are:

Category 1: Applications, content, production capacities and skills for women’s social and political empowerment and links with sustainable development

Winner: UNESCO’s Women in Africa’s History e-Learning project, Ethiopia

Category 2: ICT applications, content, production capacities and skills for women’s economic empowerment and poverty reduction

Winner: iMerit Technology, India

Category 3: Promoting women in the ICT sector — initiatives to attract, retain and promote women in the ICT sector and into decision-making roles (public/private sector)

Winner: BCS Chartered Institute for IT, United Kingdom

Category 4: Enabling girls to become ICT creators — initiatives aimed at providing girls with the opportunity to become not just active users, but creators of ICTs and content

Winner: Centro de Investigación para la Acción Feminina (CIPAF), Dominican Republic

Category 5: Closing the ICT gender gap, ensuring ICT accessibility for women, such as digital literacy training, and ensuring affordable and meaningful access to ICTs by women

Winner: Foundation, Philippines

Category 6: Efforts to reduce online threats and to build women’s confidence and security in the use of ICTs

Winner: Association for Progressive Communications (APC), South Africa

Category 7: ICT and broadband strategies, policies and frameworks that promote women’s digital empowerment

Winner: Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, Nigeria

The GEM-TECH awards are sponsored by Gold Partners, including the Sultanate of Oman, the Republic of Rwanda, the Swiss Confederation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Silver Partners Cisco Systems and Facebook.

Congratulating the seven winners out of a field of 37 finalists, ITU’s Dr. Touré praised the exceptional quality of nominations. He also stressed that much still needs to be done to leverage the full power of ICTs to improve the lives of women and men.

“It is almost 20 years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action — so where do we stand today with reference to gender equality and gender mainstreaming?” asked Dr. Touré, who pointed to a ‘gender digital divide’ that is particularly worrying in the developing world.

“ITU estimates that some 200 million fewer women are online compared to men. Women are coming online later, and more slowly. Without remedial action, it is estimated that the internet gender gap could grow to 350 million within three or four years. Equality in access to broadband is not only an issue of right and wrong; it also makes commercial and economic sense,” he said.

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said, “We need all of you to join our efforts, so that these inspiring GEM-TECH winners and others working at the forefront of digital inclusion are leading a turning point for women’s digital empowerment through technology.”

The ceremony also recognized six GEM-TECH Global Achievers — organizations and individuals that have made exceptional long-term commitments to furthering the issue of ICT and gender. They are: Alcatel-Lucent’s StrongHer initiative; Cisco Systems’ Distinguished Consulting Engineer, Monique Morrow; Academy Award-winning actor and advocate, Geena Davis; GSMA’s Connected Women programme; Intel Corporation’s Director of Social Impact, Renee Wittemyer; and former Serbian Minister of Telecommunications and State Secretary for Digital Agenda, Jasna Matić.

The awards ceremony was followed later in the day by the GEM-TECH High Level Dialogue. Winners and partners had the opportunity to showcase their projects and initiatives, and  other experts from industry, civil society and government joined a stimulating debate on the topic of ‘Gender and ICTs: Why gender equality matters and where do we stand today?’, moderated by Arirang CEO Sohn Jie-Ae.


Follow the GEM-TECH news on Twitter #GEMtechAwards


Download GEM-TECH 2014 photos here.

Watch the video showcasing the seven GEM-TECH winners here.

Watch a movie showcase of the 37 shortlisted nominees here.

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About ITU
ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology. For nearly 150 years, ITU has coordinated the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve communication infrastructure in the developing world and established the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems. From broadband networks to new-generation wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, satellite-based meteorology and converging fixed-mobile phone, Internet and broadcasting technologies, ITU is committed to connecting the world.

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