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Doreen Bogdan-Martin

First woman elected to lead UN’s body for telecommunication

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, United States, has been elected Secretary-General of UN organisation International Telecommunication Union (ITU). She will be the first woman to lead the 157 year old organisation that today plays a vital role in the international use of the internet.

ITU was founded to manage the first international telegraph networks and today plays an important role in international use of radio, satellite and the internet. Bogdan-Martin beat Russian rival Rashid Ismailov getting 139 out of 172.

She is seen as favouring the internet to continue as a decentralised global network of networks while Ismailov represented countries arguing for a more centralised structure controlled largely by governments. The election took place during ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference in Bucharest, Romania.

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“Whether it’s today’s children or our children’s children, we need to provide them with a strong and stable foundation for growth,” Bogdan-Martin said. “The world is facing significant challenges – escalating conflicts, a climate crisis, food security, gender inequalities, and 2.7 billion people with no access to the Internet. I believe we, the ITU and our members, have an opportunity to make a transformational contribution. Continuous innovation can and will be a key enabler to facilitate resolution of many of these issues.”

“Immensely proud to be the first woman ever elected to the post of @ITU Secretary-General”, she tweeted.

“We’ve finally smashed a 157-y.o. glass ceiling! – and I hope this result inspires women & girls everywhere to dream big & make those dreams a reality!”

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Ms Bogdan-Martin has held leadership positions in international telecommunications policy for over two decades. Throughout her career, she has brokered innovative and visionary partnerships with the private sector, civil society, and other United Nations agencies to accelerate digital inclusion and connectivity, ITU said in a statement.

“As chief architect of ITU’s development work in recent years, Bogdan-Martin has emphasized the need for digital transformation to achieve economic prosperity, job creation, skills development, gender equality, and socio-economic inclusion, as well as to build circular economies, reduce climate impact, and save lives.” 

ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs)/ It has 193 Member States and a membership of over 900 companies, universities, and international and regional organizations. 

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