Economic Development

UN Telecomms Boss: Hey, Did Ya Know? One in Three People Still Aren’t Online!

Doreen Bogdan-Martin underscored ITU’s wide-ranging brief, emphasizing its pivotal role in fostering connectivity across the globe. 

Founded in 1865 as an international telegraph association, today ITU champions two paramount goals: universal connectivity and sustainable digital transformation.

The first woman in the post, Secretary-General Bogdan-Martin highlighted the stark digital divide impacting women and marginalized communities. Women still account for a disproportionate share of those offline, outnumbering men by some 20 per cent.

Women losing out

In Least Developed Countries, only 30 per cent of women have access to the internet, she added.

“I’ve seen women who can’t afford a smartphone, women in countries where entry-level handsets can exceed 70 per cent of the average household’s monthly income,” she said reflecting on the time spent in office, on the eve of the International Women’s Day.

© UNICEF/Srikanth Kolari

Women still account for a disproportionate share of those offline, outnumbering men by some 20 per cent.

Speaking about generative artificial intelligence (AI) – an area where ITU holds a leading role among the UN-family agencies – the Secretary-General stressed there are clear pros and cons.

Citing AI’s potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent and advance progress across the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, she cautioned against the threat AI poses, including cyberattacks and erosion of trust caused by dis and misinformation.

Multiple threats

“Emerging technologies, like AI, can be used to erode trust in our elections, in our institutions, and it can threaten our jobs, our privacy, and I think also our very future,” she said adding that more than 2200 cyberattacks happen each day. An ITU study indicates, that attacks are increasing by some 80 per cent year on year.

Amidst the challenges, Ms. Bogdan-Martin exuded optimism, citing recent commitments by the private sector and multilateral institutions totalling $46 billion towards accessible network connectivity, bound to reach the goal of $100 billion in overall investments by 2026. 

Moreover, in certain regions some positive trends are observed. A recent ITU report shows that Internet use in the world’s 57 small island developing states and territories – or SIDS – has outpaced the world average of 6.7 per cent over the past decade, increasing by 8.4 per cent annually between 2014 and 2023. 

Proper investments, coupled with initiatives and decisions made at ITU’s venues such as the AI for Good Global Summit and the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly can help bridge the digital divide, the agency chief said. 

Source

13 Comments

  1. As a woman myself, I strongly agree with Secretary-General Bogdan-Martin’s emphasis on the critical need to bridge the digital divide that disproportionately impacts women. It’s disheartening to see the stark reality that many women, especially in Least Developed Countries, still lack access to the internet due to financial constraints. We must address this issue urgently to ensure equal opportunities for all individuals, regardless of gender. Kudos to her for shedding light on this important issue!

  2. It’s alarming that a third of the world is still not online. The digital gender gap is a serious issue, with women disproportionately affected. It’s time for more action to ensure universal connectivity and bridge this divide!

  3. It’s concerning to see the continued disparity in online access among women, especially in Least Developed Countries. Doreen Bogdan-Martin’s insights shed light on the challenges faced by marginalized communities. It’s crucial to address these issues to ensure universal connectivity and promote digital inclusion for all.

  4. As a woman, I strongly believe that bridging the digital gender gap is crucial for empowering marginalized communities and achieving universal connectivity. It’s alarming to see that women are still disproportionately affected by lack of access to the internet, especially in Least Developed Countries. Initiatives like those led by ITU are essential in ensuring that women have equal opportunities for digital inclusion.

  5. Did the Secretary-General mention any specific initiatives aimed at bridging the digital divide for women and marginalized communities? It’s crucial to address this issue for global connectivity.

    1. Yes, the Secretary-General discussed various initiatives during her speech, highlighting the importance of bridging the digital gap for women and marginalized communities. She emphasized the need for targeted programs to increase internet access for these groups and address the disparities in technology adoption. It’s indeed a crucial step towards achieving global connectivity and digital inclusion.

  6. Do you think initiatives like providing affordable smartphones could help bridge the digital gender gap highlighted by Secretary-General Bogdan-Martin?

    1. Initiatives like providing affordable smartphones could definitely play a crucial role in bridging the digital gender gap outlined by Secretary-General Bogdan-Martin. Ensuring access to affordable technology is essential in empowering women and marginalized communities to fully participate in the digital age and benefit from the opportunities it offers.

  7. Did the article mention any specific initiatives ITU is taking to bridge the digital gender gap?

    1. Hey Danielle87, yes, the article did mention that ITU is actively working to bridge the digital gender gap by emphasizing universal connectivity and sustainable digital transformation. Secretary-General Bogdan-Martin highlighted the stark digital divide impacting women and marginalized communities, with specific mention of the challenge faced by women in Least Developed Countries. The ITU is striving to address this issue through various initiatives to increase internet access for women and bridge the gender gap in digital connectivity.

  8. It’s alarming to know that one in three people are still not connected to the internet. Secretary-General Bogdan-Martin’s emphasis on universal connectivity is crucial in bridging the digital divide, especially for women and marginalized communities. The statistics she shared about women in Least Developed Countries lacking access to the internet sheds light on the inequalities that still persist. It’s important to address these disparities to ensure equal opportunities for everyone.

  9. It’s alarming that one in three people are still not connected online. The digital gender gap continues to be a major issue, with women disproportionately affected. We must strive for universal connectivity to ensure equal opportunities for all.

  10. As the first woman in this post, I strongly believe that addressing the digital gender gap is crucial for achieving universal connectivity and sustainable digital transformation. It’s disheartening to see women still disproportionately affected, especially in the Least Developed Countries where access to the internet is limited for only 30% of women. Action is needed to ensure equal opportunities for all.

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