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If you are planning to attend the World Summit on the Information Society Forum taking place from May 13-17 in Geneva, either in person or remotely, here you can find a compilation of all the events focusing on women’s rights.

Tuesday 14 May

Measuring ICT and Gender (Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development)
Room H

The Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development’s session on Measuring ICT and Gender will address the question of what current statistics can tell us about women in the information society and how women use, benefit from and produce ICTs. The session will look at available data on gender and ICT and propose a set of priority areas where more data are needed, for discussion with the audience. The outcome of the session will feed into the work of the Partnership Task Group on Measuring Gender and ICT.

Chair: Torbjörn Fredriksson, Chief, ICT Analysis Section, UNCTAD
Susan Teltscher, Head, ICT Data and Statistics Division, BDT, ITU
Nancy Hafkin, Senior Associate, Women in Global Science and Technology
Alison Gillwald, Executive Director, Research ICT Africa
Shazna Zuhyle, Research Manager, LIRNEasia
Alexandre Barbosa, Manager, Brazilian Network Information Center

FOSS- Smart Choice for Developing Countries: Innovative Open Source Technologies and Implications for Capacity Building for Women in FOSS (Open Source Alliance of Central Asia (OSACA) and TechCentralAsia)
Room L

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), once limited to advanced users, now attracts average users. Countries have adopted FOSS for its social, economic and political benefits. Russia has started to shift government to Linux by 2015 and plans to build a national repository of Open Source Software. China is teaming up with Canonical to develop an open source operating system for Chinese users called Ubuntu Kylin. According to Black Duck Software and North Bridge Venture Partners Open-Source Survey, Open Source Software is helping improve enterprise networking, smartcars, and academia. InformationWeek’s survey “Open Source Software Use Joins the Mix,” confirms that FOSS “is believed to create more opportunities for innovation than commercial or proprietary software.”

This workshop emphasizes three main issues: 1) Innovative FOSS technologies, 2) Capacity building in FOSS, and 3) Women as FOSS users and developers. It will discuss benefits, costs and implications of choosing FOSS; highlight the representation, role and achievements of women from the Central and South Asian region; and guide recommendations to build capacity of women in utilizing FOSS for education, health, governance, and civil society.

Why FOSS? FOSS fosters education for the persons contributing to it and for those using it. In addition to learning new skills, FOSS developers can help solve real-life problems. Irrespective of geographic location, volunteers work collaboratively to develop software. This creates a sense of community ownership of their technology and enhances employment, employability and increases local innovation. FOSS reduces deployment costs making it a smart choice by developing countries. FOSS is affordable, stable, reliable, and free of viruses. What are innovative FOSS technologies? This workshop will showcase some of the most innovative Open Source Software technologies. It will highlight the fact that most servers are based on open source, and now common users, governments and businesses around the world are transitioning to FOSS. Why Capacity Building? Capacity building in computer education should teach students concepts; ensure that students learn through hands on experience using a variety of tools; and leave students the choice of which tool to use to create virtual worlds. Students should be given responsibilities, including helping run IT systems. For example, students of higher classes could build or modify software for lower classes.

Organized by Open Source Alliance of Central Asia (OSACA), this workshop will explore whether the requirements to be a FOSS contributor prevent women from doing so, and what it will take for women in Central and South Asia, to become valuable contributors. The workshop outcomes and action items will link up to the WSIS 2015 Gender Equality in FOSS. This workshop is in-line with WSIS Action Items C3. Access to information and knowledge, C4. Capacity Building, C7. ICT applications and C8. Cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content. Diverse stakeholders interested in technology, policymakers and decision makers, entrepreneurs, NGOs, intergovernmental agencies, educational institutions and technology developers and users are invited to participate. You will learn and share experiences, as well as network with some of the key global FOSS leaders and experts.

Moderator: Mr. Omar Mansoor Ansari, Cofounder/ Board Director, Open Source Alliance of Central Asia (OSACA)

H.E. Baryalai Hassam, Deputy Minister (Technical), Ministry of Communications and IT (MCIT), Afghanistan
Dr. Maria Beebe, Sr. ICT Advisor (Education), Telecom Advisory Team (Afghanistan) Deloitte, United States
Mr. Sunil Abraham, Executive Director, Center for Internet and Society, India
Ms. Roxana Radu, Researcher, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Romania
Dr. Matthias Stürmer, Swiss Open Systems User Group /ch/open, Switzerland
Prof. Dr. rer. pol. Wolfgang F. Finke, Ernst-Abbe University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Miguel Raimilla, Executive Director, Foundation


HL Dialogue No 1: Women’s Empowerment in the Information society: Systemic, Scalable Strategies
(E/F/ Passive A) Room Popov

The global community has called for a post 2015 development framework that promotes transformative change which is more integrated and that considers the ecosystem of development. Achieving a transformative post 2015 development agenda will require taking gender, ICT4D, and the integration of the two seriously. Gender equality is a central foundation of development, an objective in itself as well as a lever for broader development. ICTs are increasingly leveraged as an innovative development tool because they promote more engaged and empowered citizens, flows of information and knowledge and provide new mechanisms for delivering critical services and meeting the 21st century challenges. Yet the virtuous circle that can be created, through better integrating gender into ICT and ICT into gender equality and women’s empowerment, has yet to be fully realized. In order to be truly transformative in these areas means moving beyond pockets of advancement and adopting systemic, scalable solutions that promote transformative change. Concrete recommendations for how to achieve this transformation were provided at both the Women, ICT and Development (WICTAD) International Forum and the WSIS+10 review meeting held in early 2013.

These included:

  • Establishing equality in women’s access to ICTs, in all its forms, by taking into account different levels of access and opportunity and the barriers women and girls face.
  • Integrating gender analysis and principles in national digital and e-strategy frameworks and agendas – including their implementation and monitoring – as well as within sectoral interventions, e.g. e-health.
  • Involving women as active and primary agents of change in owning, designing, using and adapting ICTs and ensuring their equal representation in decision-making positions in the public and private technology sector and doubling their representation in the work force as a whole.
  • Building understanding, capacities and skills for women and girls to fully engage in the information society and to use ICTs for agency and empowerment as well as to progress in ICT careers. Promoting women’s digital literacy and access and use of educational programmes and learning environments.
  • Developing content that responds to women’s needs and actively promoting women as content producers.
  • Developing and collecting gender and sex-disaggregated data, and undertaking research and impact analysis on gender and ICT.
  • Connecting human rights, gender and ICT frameworks, and promoting understanding of, addressing and reporting on information society issues within women’s rights frameworks and national gender strategies.

The High Level Panel will reflect on these, while addressing the critical need for scalable solutions for the integration of women and their needs and interests in the information society.

Moderator: Ms Deborah Taylor Tate, ITU Special Envoy and Laureate for Child Online Protection; Co-Chair, Healthy Media Commission, US Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission (Ret)

Ms Gulden Turkoz-Cosslett, Director of Programming, UN Women
Mr Mario Maniewicz, Chief, Department of Infrastructure, Enabling Environment and E-Applications, Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), ITU
Ms Jac Siew Min Kee, Women’s Rights Programme Manager, Association for Progressive Communication
Niamh Scannell, Research Director, Intel Labs Europe
Ms Scovia Umulisa, Statistics Analysis in Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA)
H.E. Mrs Gaj, President, Office of Electronic Communications of Poland


Women, ICT and Development (WICTAD) Coalition: Strategies for Advocacy and Coalition Building (UN Women / WICTAD)
Room E

The Women, ICT and Development (WICTAD) Coalition is made up of a range of stakeholders that seek to share learning, identify opportunities for collaboration and alignment, highlight and make efforts to fill gaps in understanding and investment, produce recommended actions for the post 2015 United Nations development agenda, as well as generate a new consensus on the importance of leveraging ICTs for women in development agendas and advocate to this end. The coalition comprises a number of works streams led by different organizations and covers: Access to ICTs, Digital Literacy, Health, Education, Political Participation, Entrepreneurship, Content Producers, ICT Careers, ICT Policies, and Data & Research.

This Roundtable session will review the recommendations from the WICTAD International Forum held in January 2013, as well as those produced from the gender side events at the WSIS+10 in February 2013. Discussions will take place on strategies and practical next steps for influencing the post 2015 agenda and ensuring that around ICTD and gender equality and women’s empowerment issues are well addressed and that effective monitoring mechanisms are put in place. The relationship between national, regional and global efforts, data and evidence to make the case, and needed capacities will be addressed. The end of the Roundtable discussion will then consider how the WICTAD Coalition can be further mobilized and strengthened to not only advocate around the post 2015 agenda but to also operationalize goals, see that identified priorities are implemented, and that the requisite mechanisms for support and sharing are available. All those working on or interested in this agenda are encouraged to attend. Work stream leaders in attendance and other discussants will initiate the conversation.

Ms Jennifer Breslin, Knowledge and Innovation Coordinator, UN Women
Ms Ann Mei Chang, Senior Advisor for Women and Technology, US State Department Office of Global Women’s Issues
WICTAD members from the UN System, Civil Society, Academia, Private Sector, Government

Wednesday 15 May


Women Leaders 4 MDGs: Women leadership as a strategic and key asset to achieve the MDGs (International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists)
Room Popov

This session aims at highlighting challenges of development, and actions women leaders are fighting for through their own careers and involvement in NGOs at international, regional and local levels. Three key speakers, from different corners of the World, will point out development challenges and describe some successful projects implemented since INWES, the International Network of Women Engineers, started its work in Canada, in 1964, with its first gathering of leading figures, at a time when and where major developed countries would not yet give the voting rights to women – at a time when engineering and technology development would be only for men. A lot of progress has be made, but major plans still need to be engaged, as policies and legal frameworks are in place; and major inputs can be injected in developing areas of the world.

A focus will be made on what activities INWES and its members have accomplished as a global network of organizations of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), reaching over 250 000 members from 60 countries worldwide. Also, we shall put on the table some recommendations in line with the WSIS Review Process (WSIS+10) including vision beyond 2015.These include concrete projects such as:

  • KidsInfo project, introduced a few years ago in Switzerland, which presents the world of engineering and architecture to young children (aged 8-12) with a different method, combining games, simple technical exercises and gender questions.
  • ICT4MDGs, a think thank and annual conference in Africa to efficiently use ICT to reach the millennium goals for development in Africa, across various sectors (Finance, Agriculture, Education, Gender and diversity, Media, etc.).

The speakers will speak of their own paths in the many countries and regions of the world they represent, and propose recommendations for an improved global development framework, in areas of environment, anti-corruption, education at primary stage, development of the economy through innovation and boosting of SMEs management.

Reine Essobmadje, Ms Sc. Eng, Member of INWES and WFEO WIE and CIC committees, Founder of Evolving Consulting in France & Cameroon, France & Cameroon.
Yvette Ramos, Ms Sc. Eng, – MBA, President of Swissengineering Geneva, organizational Member of INWES, Director of a Intellectual property Law firm, Switzerland.
Bashayer Al Awwad, Ms Sc. Eng, Chairwoman of WFEO WIE Committee, Vice-President of WFEO, GirlsInICT Role Model, Kuwait.

Thursday 16 May


Women and ICT careers (ITU/WICTAD)
Room H

Careers in information and communication technology (ICT) are a buoyant and growing sector for employment, and a key economic factor underpinning both national and international development. This growth in employment, however, has not led to a parallel increase in jobs for women in the ICT labour market, with the female to male ratio being particularly pronounced at senior levels. In fact, with the general growth of job opportunities in the sector, women’s employment figures in advanced economies are in decline, which suggests that the issue is not just an entry level problem but may also be one of recruitment, retention, including making the ICT work environment more attractive, and lack of promotion of women within the sector.

Attracting women and girls to consider careers in ICTs involves breaking the male geek stereotype, convincing media to develop storylines that include women characters that have ICT careers, encouraging and supporting girls pursuing math, science and technology studies and introducing innovative teaching methods. Keeping women in the ICT pipeline requires companies’ commitment to recruit, retain and promote women.

The lack of women in tech careers has been well documented through ITU and other studies. The widespread adoption of International Girls in ICT Day has raised awareness of the issue on a global scale. The time is ripe to move to the next stage of identifying solutions and implementation strategies. This session will examine promising solutions for:
  • Attracting girls and young women into the ICT education and career pipeline
  • Using media to spark interest among girls and you women in ICT careers
  • Creating communities of support for girls and young women in the ICT pipeline
  • Changing the way math and computer science is taught to make it more attractive for women
  • Making the ICT work environment more attractive to women
  • Committing ICT companies to recruit, retain and promote women
  • Using legal and other measures as a game changer
  • Changing mindsets at the highest levels, whether in the private sector or in political spheres

Ann Mei CHANG, Senior Advisor for Women and Technology in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the US Department
Martha ALADE, Chairperson Women in Technology in Nigeria
Gloria BONDER, Director, Gender, Society and Policies Area, FLASCO Argentina
Ruthe FARMER, Director of Strategic Initiatives, National Center for Women & Information Technology
Cheryl Miller, Founder and Executive Director of Zen Digital
Miguel Raimilla, Executive Director, Foundation
Markus SCHWERTEL, Senior Manager, Corporate Affairs, Global Engagement Organization Europe, Strategic Partnerships, Cisco


Empowering women: ICTs for Women’s Entrepreneurship (UNCTAD, ILO)
Room H

ICTs are offering women entrepreneurs new opportunities to strengthen their businesses and become more effective. Through mobile phones, websites, electronic platforms and networks, blogs and the internet, women entrepreneurs are reaching out to clients and customers and building their businesses in ways they could never have done before. Women entrepreneurs in developed and developing countries face challenges and barriers that ICTs increasingly are helping to overcome.

This event will showcase and commemorate the launch of a new initiative by ILO and UNCTAD, financed by the Government of Sweden, to integrate the ICT dimension into ILO’s Methodology Guide for assessing the environment for women entrepreneurship development (WED). The revised Guide will be the first version that takes the ICT dimension systematically into account and will be used to assist policymakers and development partners to identify policy recommendations to improve the WED environment, in particular in developing countries.

The event will also feature three innovative women entrepreneurs from Africa who will speak on how ICTs are being used to enable them to build their businesses. In the second half of the event, there will be a multi-stakeholder dialogue on how the evolving ICT landscape can be tapped by governments, the private sector, international organizations, civil society, business development service providers and other stakeholders to support WED and how women entrepreneurs in the developed and developing world can support each other.

Joni Simpson, Global Coordinator, Women’s Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurship Education, ILO
Torbjörn Fredriksson, Chief, ICT Analysis Section, UNCTAD
Thao Nguyen, UNCTAD Consultant
Blandina Sembu, TV/Presenter, Jarida La Wanwake/ITV, Tanzania
Ashenafi Achamyelesh, Managing Director, Konimix Trading, Ethiopia and President,
Addis Ababa Women Entrepreneurs Association
Mellonie Mukilima , Certified Virtual Assistant, Nairobi
Henriette Kolb, CEO, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
Tim Unwin, CEO, Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization
Jens Karberg, Programme Manager, Sida, Sweden

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