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Ambassador Hamamoto: ICTs are Powerful Tools for Women’s Empowerment
December 15, 2015

ITU and UN Women name Ambassador Hamamoto one of  2015 GEM-TECH Global Achievers

ITU Pictures – © ITU/ B. Hider

Remarks by Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto
New York,
December 14, 2015

Good evening!  It’s good to be in New York, at Civic Hall, a unique community center for civic innovators – a multi-stakeholder platform where people with the same core values can “share knowledge, build tools, and solve problems” together.

I feel right at home, because the engagement that takes place here at Civic Hall mirrors the collaborative structure and objectives of the two signature gender initiatives I was able to launch this year, The Future She Deserves and Geneva Gender Champions.

Geneva is the operational hub of the UN system – so our goal is to unite the key decision-makers and experts in Geneva into a powerful force for collective action. The issues we’re prioritizing… issues of gender equality… of women and girls’ empowerment… these issues transcend disciplines and organizations and merit a comprehensive and coordinated response.

And that’s why, although I’m the one standing before you tonight, this award really belongs to all those on my team at the U.S. Mission and in “International Geneva” who have embraced these initiatives and are personally committed to driving real change for women and girls by working together.

I would like to thank ITU for leading the way.  Secretary-General Zhao was among the first to sign on as a Geneva Gender Champion, making women’s digital empowerment and full participation in the digital society one of his key objectives.

We can’t emphasize this enough at a time when the world is increasingly divided into those who have access to the Internet, and those who don’t.  For women and girls everywhere, Internet connectivity is not a luxury, it’s a necessity!

Information and communication technologies – ICTs –have transformed markets, enabled the creation of industries, accelerated research and development, facilitated social movements, improved healthcare outcomes, and connected people in ways that would have been unimaginable a generation ago.

Unfortunately, women continue to face profound inequalities – and study after study shows that women are vastly under-represented in ICT and STEM fields and in leadership positions in the tech sector.

And that’s why the U.S. Mission has been partnering with ITU on initiatives like Girls in ICT Day.

Because I believe there is no better way to bring women and girls into the economy and to facilitate their full participation in society than by providing training in and access to ICTs and STEM education.

As I walked through the Tech Showcase earlier… I couldn’t help but see myself many years ago… when like many of these young women, I was a brand new engineer with dreams of design and discovery.

What do we say to these young women?  To all girls who want to code, invent, change the way we look at things?  What do we say to the women and girls who see in technology something that gives them not only purpose, but also powerful tools of empowerment?

I would tell them that this award ceremony tonight sends a strong message that we can’t and won’t keep women and girls away from science, technology, engineering and math; and that we will no longer accept the social perceptions that STEM jobs are somehow just for men.

The spread of ICTs and global connectivity has unbelievable potential to accelerate economic and social progress and importantly, women’s progress.

I am honored and proud to receive this award and vow to continue working with all our partners in Geneva and beyond to accelerate progress toward true gender equality.

Thank you very much.