Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today emphasized the need to optimize the use of information and communications technology (ICT) to support sustainable development.
“By gathering, disseminating and analyzing information, we can accelerate action to protect natural resources, combat climate change and help vulnerable people, including women and girls,” Mr. Ban said in a message to mark the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.
The Day, which falls on 17 May, marks the anniversary of the establishment of UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 1865. The theme for this year’s Day is ‘Women and Girls in ICT,’ and it aims to help create opportunities for women and girls by eliminating gender disparities and empowering them to meet their goals and aspirations as decision-makers within the ICT sector.
Mr. Ban noted that ICTs are already benefiting women and girls in numerous ways, pointing out that e-commerce is expanding opportunities for entrepreneurship, while mobile telephones are enabling midwives to make childbirth safer.
“Electronic social networks are allowing women around the world to mobilize as never before for democracy, dignity and human rights,” the Secretary-General said in his message.
He cautioned that ICT had the potential to cause harm, citing cyber-bullying, Internet-driven human trafficking and other abuses in which women and girls are targeted.
The Secretary-General also reiterated his call for wide-ranging efforts to close both the digital divide and the gender gap.
“All people must be able to make the best use of information and communications technology to help create the future we want,” he said.