The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) made history recently as the governing Council opened its annual session; for the first time with two women are leading the Council.
Ms Julie Zoller, senior deputy coordinator for International Information Communications and Information Policy at the United States State Department took the reins as Chair with Ms Eva Spiny, Director, Spectrum Management Planning for the Communications Area, Ministry of Economic Development of Italy, serving as Vice Chair.
“It’s a sign of progress for gender equality,” said Ms. Zoller, during her opening remarks as the first woman to chair the Council since the year 2000. “We are making history together.”
“We are all in this together,” she told attendees from among the delegates of 48 countries representing the ITU Membership of 193 States at the Council session in Geneva, which runs until 2 June. “We must lead by example and commit to providing the best results.”
Ms. Zoller was also the first woman to chair ITU’s Radio Regulations Board in 2008, which is again this year chaired by a woman.
“I’m an engineer … and gender balance has always been very important to me,” said Ms. Zoller during an interview with ITU this week. “I’m really grateful to be able to have this opportunity. One of the things I would say to women as they consider their career path and their aspirations is: ‘Look ahead and think about what you would like to be doing. Build the skills. And then, ask for support for doing it. Ask to take a chairmanship.’ That’s what I did with the ITU Council.”
ITU Council this year will approve ITU’s operational plans for 2017-2020 and consider several key issues, such as how to address Internet-related public policy issues and cybersecurity, child online protection and gender mainstreaming, as well as conformance and interoperability of ICT products. Councillors will focus on future technologies in preparing for a globally connected world in the era of the Internet of Things, review ITU’s role in using ICTs as a means to achieve the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs), and promote the empowerment of youth through ICTs.
“At this Council, we will ensure ITU’s contribution toward achieving the SDGs, setting us on a path to a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable world,” said Ms. Zoller. “One of the most important things the Council will do is set up an experts group for the review of the International Telecommunication Regulations.”