NEWTON, MA | November 10, 2005
Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) has added its name to a declaration focusing on the importance of women’s access to information and communication technologies (ICTs), and the link between access and increasing gender equity around the world. EDC and its co-signers will present the declaration at the United Nations’ World Summit on the Information Society being held in Tunis, November 16-18.
The 4-page document has now been signed by 32 organizations from 15 countries, including many organizations that focus on increasing the active participation of girls and women in ICT. The goal is to have an impact on both U.N. and individual countries’ policy regarding issues of equity and economic development both at the summit in Tunis, and beyond.
Those signing the declaration agree on their concerns that: cultural and structural barriers disproportionately affect women’s access to ICTs; participation of women in ICT design and development is failing to expand; there is a lack of visibility of women entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators of ICT; a prevalence of gender stereotypes discourages girls from entering science and technology courses and careers; and women’s lower level of technological literacy globally will compound the chronic shortage of skilled scientists, engineers and mathematicians needed in the 21st century.
The document states that those who have signed it know from their own experience that:
- ICT development benefits from women’s direct participation and leadership;
- ICTs support all areas of social, political, and economic development to improve the lives of women, their families, and communities;
- Programs to create positive change in support of girls and women in ICT should seek to collaborate and provide mutual support;
- Policy development, implementation and governance relating to ICT access, use, literacy, development, and design should include a significant number of women as participants and leaders and also consider the impact of those policies on girls and women;
- Research is critical to understanding the issues relating to the involvement of women and girls in ICT, including the opportunities of ICTs to provide options for women, overcoming illiteracy, creating opportunities for entrepreneurship, allowing women to work from home and care for their families, accessing ICTs from rural locations, and enhancing and enriching their quality of life.
“With the power of communications technology to make a difference in the lives of people everywhere, it is critical that we support and encourage increased access to these tools,” said EDC President Janet Whitla. “EDC is committed to fostering the active participation and leadership of women in the fields of science and technology in both the developed world and in developing countries,” Whitla said.
The signing builds on 20 years of work in EDC’s Education, Employment and Community Programs in helping women achieve equity and helping people develop skills needed for success in life and work.