Wednesday 2 November 2022
Hilton Trinidad Centre
Dr. Kim Mallalieu
Deputy Chairman of the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago and Vice Chair, Network of Women in ITU-D
Members of the Board of the Directors of the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago
Mrs. Cynthia Reddock-Downes
Chief Executive Officer of TATT
Ms. Jennifer Manner
Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, EchoStar Corporation and CITEL Chair, NoW4WRC
Mr. Carmelo Rivera
Senior Level Spectrum Engineering Support, Advantage Consulting & Engineering Services Corporation and Coordinator, PCC.II Mentoring Program
Directors of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union
Members and prospective members of the Network of Women for WRC23
Current and prospective Mentors and Mentees of the PCC-II Mentoring Program
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am honoured to address you today at this NoW4WRC lunch being hosted as a side event in CITEL PCC II. I can also say, without reservation that the CTU is happy to have its name associated with the Network of Women, and could not have said no to Dr. Mallalieu when she tabled this opportunity.
Permit me to begin my brief remarks by sharing my personal experience on this journey to the position of Secretary-General of the CTU, a position which I have held for just over a year and a half. My career spans from the Barbados Immigration Department, as an immigration officer, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, the CTU (as Business Development and Operations Manager), to the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology, Barbados. For the majority of my tenure within each of these organisations I was reporting to a woman, each of whom provided tremendous opportunities for my personal and professional growth and development. My prior stint at the CTU for example, which was 4 years, was a very rewarding experience and paved the way for my later return as Secretary-General. Many of you know Bernadette Lewis, the immediate past SG, who also was the 1st female Secretary-General of the CTU and now serves as SG of the Commonwealth Telecoms Organisation, again the 1st in the organisation’s 120 year history. SG Lewis was and continues to be one of my mentors. I also had the privilege of working in an advisory capacity with Barbados’ first female Prime Minister, the Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, who’s first order of business was to create a ministry with responsibility to drive national digital transformation, headed by a female senator, Senator The Hon. Kay McConney.
You would forgive me if I start with this personal recollection to give you a sense of my own development, my own experience, so you can appreciate why the issue of gender equality, parity and mainstreaming in the ICT sector is an issue about which I do not need any persuasion.
Consequently, one of the first things I set out to do in CTU, having created a new organisational structure with the approval of the General Conference in 2021, was to ensure that there was female representation on our weekly management team meetings on a rotational basis. This provides an avenue not just for their input into the management decisions and policies of the organisation but also facilitates their professional development in preparation for greater opportunities in their careers.
And so, in light of the ITU initiatives, both the Network of Women and Generation Connect (the latter of course focussing on the youth) we have also taken a decision to appoint a focal point, in the person of Francola John, who has been working and will continue to work closely with Kim. We have also designated Ms. Nia Nanan, Senior Research Analyst, as the CTU’s Youth Envoy who will be responsible for our interface with the Generation Connect Youth from the Caribbean, the first substantive engagement beginning next week Monday, building on our 1st-ever Caribbean Youth Internet Governance Forum held earlier this year, planned and executed by Caribbean Youth.
In both instances, the focus of these two persons will be to ensure that our 2023 programme takes into account the objectives of NoW and reflects the objectives of Resolution 70 and others related, coming out of ITU PP-22, ensuring that consideration is given to both gender and youth in terms of our planning, our policy development processes, our delegations, our speakers and panellists, our capacity-building efforts and basically all aspects of our work.
But we see this issue not just as one for the Secretariat and we will encourage our 20 member states to make a concerted effort in this regard also. It is my intention to put forward a resolution at our next Executive Council meeting, to that will secure the commitment of our members to gender equality, parity and mainstreaming in their national ICT agendas.
At CTU, we have started, with the creation of a Research and Analysis Unit, to look more closely at the issue of regional ICT indicators which is critical if we are to develop evidence-based policies. We will ensure wherever possible that we are able to disaggregate data to determine what progress is being made at the regional (sub-regional) level on these issues.
In Bucharest, for PP-22, the Caribbean had one of the largest delegations to ever attend a Plenipot. Of course, we were energised by the prospect of having, for the first time, a Caribbean national vying for the position of Director BDT. But long before Bahamas made its intention known, our objective was and continues to be, to ensure active participation of the Caribbean within regional and international ICT policy development processes. Stephen Bereaux was just the icing on the cake and provided a cause to energize the Caribbean Community. Naturally, we also rallied around the candidacy of Doreen Bogdan Martin, of the United States, herself the 1st female SG of the ITU and a longstanding partner and friend of the Caribbean.
I am keenly aware of some other things we can do. Over the years, I have been actively involved in initiatives such as Cisco Girls Power Tech ( a Cisco-sponsored mentorship programme). Caribbean Girls Hack led by SheLeadsIT which is focussed on supporting girls and women by identifying and advancing development opportunities for economic and social empowerment and disrupting existing social norms and values that are inherently gender biased, to bring about transformational change in the their lives and communities. We have also consistently hosted Girls in ICT Day, the last one being April this year where we partnered with Restore a Sense of I Can (RSC), an organisation based in Trinidad and Tobago. The theme has a small twist to it and is called “Girls in ICT and the Boys who Support Them”. Approximately 5000 regional students attended the event.
In closing, I started by sharing my own positive experience working with women who have broken through the glass ceiling and demonstrated the value of women participation and women leadership in the ICT space. The Caribbean does not need convincing, but conviction is not enough. The women I spoke about still represent a small minority in this sector. Let us make public commitments and let us work together to remove the glass ceiling altogether and address issues of our inherent biases that limit women participation in the digital development sector. We must make commitments, set clear targets, measure and report to our stakeholders so that we keep each other honest.
The region, the World, will be much better for it.
Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you!