Commissioners attending the seventh meeting of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development, held yesterday in Mexico City, endorsed the Report entitled “Technology, Broadband and Education: Advancing the Education for All Agenda” and set an ambitious new target to spur women’s access to information and communication technologies (ICTs).
Coordinated by UNESCO, the Report emphasizes the importance of broadband as a means of accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goal of Universal Primary Education and the Education for All goals. Less than three years away from the target date for achieving these goals, 61 million children of primary-school age, and a further 71 million of lower secondary-school age, are not in school. In addition, close to 793 million adults – 64% of them women – lack literacy skills, with the lowest rates in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia.
“Education is a human right that strengthens the dignity and capacities of women and men -- it is also a motor for the sustainable development of societies as a whole” emphasized UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, in presenting the Report to the Commission. “We must make the most of every accelerator towards 2015, and we know broadband technology is one key accelerator, leading a revolution in how we communicate, live and learn”.
At the meeting the Director-General also welcomed the adoption by the Commission of a new advocacy target “to ensure gender equality in broadband access by 2020”. According to data presented at the meeting, the difference in use of Internet between men and women is about 25%. This reaches 45% in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Broadband can empower women by connecting them to a wide range of resources -- to learn, to improve health, to engage in income-generating activities and to create content,” the Director General emphasized. “We often speak of the digital divide – this masks also a gender divide.” Gender equality is one of two cross-cutting priorities of UNESCO and the adopted advocacy target will serve a reference on Organization’s work.
The meeting of over 30 Commission members and their representatives endorsed the target proposed by the Gender Working Group, requested that members of that group implement a project ‘dashboard’ to track gender and technology initiatives worldwide, and mandated the group to deliver its first set of outcomes to the next meeting of the Commission in September in New York.
Photos of the full meeting of the Commission can be viewed and downloaded from Flickr at: http://bit.ly/K5rJsS
The full version of “Technology, Broadband and Education: Advancing the Education for All Agenda” can be downloaded at: http://www.broadbandcommission.org/work/working-groups/education/BD_bbcomm-education_2013.pdf
For more information on the Broadband Commission, visit: www.broadbandcommission.org
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