Actress Geena Davis demands action on broadband for women

Davis has urged the UN to set up a special focus group on gender

Academy Award-winning actress and advocate Geena Davis has demanded that the International Telecommunication Union use broadband to bring new opportunities to women and girls worldwide.

Davis starred in The Fly, Beetlejuice, Thelma & Louise, A League of Their Own, The Long Kiss Goodnight and The Accidental Tourist, for which she won the 1988 Academy Award for best supporting actress.

Davis addressed the ITU's Broadband Commission for Digital Development in New York this week. Davis, who this year was named the ITU's special envoy for women and girls in the field of technology, appealed to the Commission to set up a special focus group on gender.

Such a group, said Davis, would undertake research on the ways broadband networks and technologies could be used to empower girls and women, in areas like education, health care, farming and climate monitoring.

Davis said, "Broadband is having a transformational impact on the media and entertainment industry, but its importance reaches much further than that.

"Broadband will be key to meeting the ITU's Millennium Development Goals, providing women with the means to educate themselves and their children, improve their own health and the health of their families and communities, start their own businesses, and innovate to build and shape the future they want.

The Commission has agreed to establish a special working group on gender and technology with a specific focus on how to better engage and empower girls.

The working group will be headed by Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. A special report on opportunities and barriers for girls and women will be presented at the next meeting of the Commission in Mexico City in March 2013.

In her advocacy role Davis is actively promoting the ITU's "Tech Needs Girls" campaign through public appearances at high-profile events, where she speaks on the importance of extending access to technology to women worldwide, and highlighting career opportunities available to young women in the high-tech sector.

At the recent Women in Advanced Computing conference in Boston, US, Google Gmail engineer Sabrina Farmer, said women in technology still had to overcome an "impostor syndrome" when working in the industry.

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