Geneva: ITU and UN Women have launched a new global technology award that recognises outstanding contributions from women and men in leveraging the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to promote gender equality.
The annual GEM-TECH Awards will be conferred on seven winners from government, the private sector, academia and civil society at ITU`s Plenipotentiary Conference, which will be held in Busan, South Korea, from Oct 20 to Nov 7.
Winners will travel to Busan to accept their award and join the celebration on promoting the power of ICTs to transform lives.
Online nominations are open until 11:59 CET Sep 5 at www.itu.int/gem-tech-awards, with winners to be notified by Oct 5.
Men and women working in the ICT sector can nominate their colleagues, or themselves, with the final seven winners to be selected by a committee of experts from ITU and UN Women.
The 2015 GEM-TECH awards have been launched in the context of commemorations for the 20-year anniversary of the UN Beijing Platform for Action, which emphasized the importance of ICTs for women`s empowerment and the achievement of gender equality.
The initiative comes in the wake of the disclosure by major tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Linked In, which reveal that, across the board, the number of women in tech jobs is well under 20 percent, with the percentage of women in leadership roles not much better - reflecting a global lack of women coming into the ICT field.
"This new award will provide much deserved global recognition for some of the many outstanding gender champions - both female and male - who are driving exciting, innovative and effective ICT and gender initiatives," says ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré.
ITU estimates a global skills shortfall of over two million ICT jobs in the coming 10 years. With digital technologies now pervading every business sector, girls and young women who learn coding, apps development and computer science will have a significant advantage over their non-tech-trained peers, regardless of the field they eventually choose to work in.
"ICTs can and should be a game-changer for girls and women around the world, providing them with avenues for empowerment and for exercising their rights," said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. "We must be deliberate in making this happen and these awards celebrate those that are leading this charge."