Beirut, 16 December 2003
(United Nations Information Services--Under
the auspices of the First Lady of Egypt, Ms. Suzan Mubarak, the
International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Egyptian Ministry
of Communications and Information Technology and the National
Telecommunication Institute in Egypt are organizing a regional
symposium on “Women and Information/Communication Technology” from
17 to 19 December 2003 at the Nile Hilton Hotel, Cairo, Egypt.
The meeting is organized in collaboration with the United Nations
Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations
Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the General Knowledge
The meeting, which will open at 9:30 am on Wednesday 17 December,
is intended to focus on the current issues on Gender and ICT in
the Arab region; awareness building on ICT and Gender; policies
and strategies to increase women’s access to ICTs as well as their
full participation in the ICT area; the importance of partnerships
to achieve results; capacity building activities for women in ICT;
highlighting the best practices in the Arab region; highlighting
the gender dimension in the World Summit on the Information
Society (WSIS); and the upcoming phase of the WSIS to be held in
Tunisia in 2005.
The world today is facing an information society comprised of both
women and men. ITU and its partners believe that women’s
contribution to the emerging information society must be
recognized as a vital component for future sustainable
The Cairo Regional Symposium on Women and
Information/Communication Technology will give particular
attention to sensitizing telecommunication organizations on the
importance of linking gender and ICT in the development process.
Speakers at the opening session will be: the Egyptian Minister of
Communications and Information, Mr. Ahmad Nathif, the
Secretary-General of the National Council for Women, Ms. Farkhanda
Hasan, representing the First Lady of Egypt, the Director of the
Centre for Women at ESCWA, Ms. Fatima Kassem, representing ESCWA
Executive Secretary Mervat Tallawy, the Regional Coordinator of
ICTDAR, Ms. Najat Rushdi, representing the Resident Representative
of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to Egypt, Mr.
Antonio Vigilante, the Director of UNIFEM Regional Office for Arab
States, Ms. Haifa Abu-Ghazaleh, in addition to Mr. Hamdoun Toure,
Director of Telecommunication Development Bureau, on behalf of ITU.
Participants in the Cairo symposium will be representatives of
governmental institutions and experts from the Arab world as well
as representatives of UN specialized agencies and concerned
It is worth noting that preparing its Member States for the Geneva
phase of WSIS (10-12 December 2003), ESCWA launched an initiative
to assess the current status of the Arab region as a whole in
relation to the information society. The regional profiling
exercise is still at its early stages to become later a periodic
activity, leading to an annual report in order to reflect the
dynamic nature of the information society in western Asia, and to
extend it to the Arab region.
Such a regional profile will provide ESCWA Member States with
needed data and analysis to help them plan their activities and
improve their performance in building the information society as
well as compare their status to that of other countries.