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ABU GA – ABU Gender Forum ends with a call for action to get more women in the media and new technologies

More than 150 delegates from 35 countries around the world took part in the Women With the Wave gender forum, at the 49th ABU General Assembly in Seoul.

The forum looked at several aspects of gender inequality in the media and information and communications technologies. The session Opportunities for All: Bridging the Gender Divide examined some practical initiatives and strategies from around the world that narrow the gender divide and promote greater educational and workplace opportunities in the digital broadcast media and technology fields.

The session Digital Leaders: Women on the Crest of the Wave was a sharing of experiences from women who have been riding the crest of the wave – who have been there and done that and wanted to share their challenges and the opportunities they’ve taken along the way.

One of them was Ann Mei Chang, a former engineering director at Google who spoke about changing the language around new communications and information technologies to get more women involved.

The forum began with a keynote address by Academy Award-winning actor and women’s rights campaigner Geena Davis, who said that studies showed fewer than one in five of characters in American family films were women and that at the current rate of improvement women “will achieve parity in 700 years”. On the second day, she talked about sponsoring women rather than mentorship, not just giving advice but actively pushing the interests of talented women up the hierarchy.

The forum ended with a Statement on Empowering Women through Media and ICTs, which called on industry leaders, governments and international organisations to work harder to get greater female representation in workplaces and on the airwaves.

It put forward a nine-point plan of practical action that included greater effort from media leaders, more research into gender bias, better access to training for women and girls, the wider use of resources promoting gender equality and greater cooperation to tackle gender inequality across the media and ICT industries.

ABU Secretary General Dr Javad Mottaghi said he was very pleased with the way the forum had tackled “one of the most important issues in the media today”.

“We were honoured by insights, information and advice from some very prominent advocates of gender equality,” he said. “And the outcome was an even greater commitment to put things right for today’s women, their daughters and their granddaughters.”