INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION
Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) Document WGGI-2/29-E
Second Meeting of the Working Group on Gender Issues 20 June 2003
ITU Headquarters, Geneva, 7 –9 July 2003 Original: English
Agenda Item: 7 For information
BDT Capacity Building Programme in Gender Mainstreaming
28 April – 2 May 2003
Prepared by Sarah Murison
Table of Contents
Summary of the Discussions 2
Closing Plenary Meeting 6
1. Gender mainstreaming in meetings 7
2. Core Messages on Gender Mainstreaming 9
BDT commissioned a capacity building programme in gender mainstreaming in implementations of
Resolution 70 of the Plenipotentiary, and the BDT Istanbul Action Plan.
The purpose of the one-week programme was to conduct seminars with selected groups of BDT staff on the
gender equality and gender mainstreaming dimensions of their work, as both a capacity building exercise,
and to identify the basis for continued focused support by the Senior Gender Advisor.
The envisioned outputs were: (1) greater clarity among the participants on how they can contribute in
practical ways to ITU’s gender equality goals in the context of their daily work, and (2) a brief document
summarizing the issues raised in these seminars for use as reference and as a basis for future action.
A consultant was recruited to facilitate an introductory discussion on gender mainstreaming in BDT, and a
series of meetings with BDT staff (nine such meetings were convened). The week’s work culminated in a
final plenary meeting in which staff shared the lessons learned from the discussions, and their plans to
incorporate new understandings into their work.
This report provides a summary of the discussions with BDT Units and the closing plenary and includes
two annexes on gender mainstreaming in meetings and core messages on gender.
Summary of Discussions with Units.
The issues discussed fall principally into the following five areas
2. Meetings, conferences and workshops
3. Female expertise, and expertise in the socio-economic dimensions of the use of, and benefit from,
4. Information and statistics
5. Internal Issues
Gender mainstreaming is far more than a matter of numbers. The fair and equal treatment of women and
men in the ICT arena is an important consideration, to which ITU is committed through its Plenipotentiary
Conference of 2002. Restricting the question of gender equality to a head-count of women involved in
meetings and conferences will have only limited impact on the critical question of universal access.
The principle concerns here are how far and in what ways do BDT programmes benefit both women and
men, rather than how many men and women are involved in BDT meetings and conferences. How far is
the actual impact on end-users included in ITU policy dialogue with members and partners? “Universal
Access” has no real meaning unless women and men have equal access, and greater understanding is
required among ITU staff of the ways in which their programmes have positive or negative effects upon
In many cases this is a challenge, as BDT works mainly at the level of Administrations, rather than directly
with end users. However, the responsibility is to help these Administrations understand more clearly the
socio-economic implications of their decisions and activities (is implicit) as implied by the ISAP.
Only a limited number of ITU staff demonstrated real understanding of end-user issues, or knowledge of
any information on gender differences in end-use (of which there is a growing amount). This is not
surprising, given the technical nature of ITU’s mandate and history to date. Nevertheless, given the new
commitments, the challenge is to build capacity in socio-economic analysis.
Several principle suggestions were made
• When conceptualizing a project, it is important to look at the user perspective.
• Seek to influence policy makers about the gender equality dimensions of more open markets,
mainly through providing them with information to help in their use analysis
• Provide case studies of successful examples (for example the LA section of FOP). These could be
brief paragraphs, including results and lessons learned, and be used as “benchmarks” to assist
people measure their own progress)
• HRD committed to explore the possibility of parallel gender modules in the e-learning
environment. This could be a module on universal access, under which gender equality, youth and
disablement issues could be discussed
• Include two specific issues in operational plan – user group dialogue on gender equality, and
information products on indicators and benchmarks in the achievement of gender equality
2. Meetings, conferences and workshops
It was acknowledged that at most meetings only a small proportion of the participants are female, and that
the meetings only rarely consider the question of universal access terms of gender equality.
Many staff in the units involved in meeting planning and implementation feel that they are at the disposal of
the Administrations, members and partners on this issue, and cannot influence their decisions regarding
who will represent them at conferences and meetings. On the other hand it was noted that HRD has
managed, through focused attention to the matter, to increase the proportion of female participants at its
meetings from 34 to 41 percent over two years.
Moreover, common sense indicates that while the possibility of dictating participation is out of the question,
the function of Convener and Organizer is a powerful one, and presents many informal opportunities to
influence decisions, especially where funding is involved. The question is one of political will rather than
Several suggestions were made to help the organisation ensure that qualified women are not excluded from
• It is indeed possible to identify and invite qualified women professionals and to encourage them to
act as meeting officials.
• In general, a pro-active rather than a passive approach to BDT’s mandate is required, with
networking, “underground work”, and collegial relationships with the various Administration staff
being the most useful instruments.
• Letters of invitation can include clear indication that BDT is mandated and committed to make a
contribution to gender equality and to address the gender equality dimensions of universal access,
and actively encourages Administrations to do the same, including by identifying suitable qualified
• Similarly, Calls for Papers and Terms of Reference for writers could include the requirement to
investigate whether their topic has implications for gender equality in the end-user group, and
include the results of this investigation in their paper.
• HRD and Conference Services felt that they would be able to include some financial incentives, by
paying for female staff, or for staff whose papers address the gender equality dimensions of the
topic. Conference services committed to earmarking 20 percent of its budget to female
• Understanding by staff of the gender equality dimensions of the topic, or the Study Group
questions, is therefore important.
• It would be helpful to collect and disseminate statistics on participation at meetings, disaggregated
by sex and by Administration, showing trends over time.
3. Female expertise, and expertise on gender equality in the end use of ICTs
Closely related to the issues discussed under the heading of “Meetings, Conferences and Workshops”, but
sufficiently important to require separate consideration, is the widespread perception in ITU that female
expertise in the ICT arena is limited, as are the people (men or women) who are competent to explore
differences in the impact of ICTs on women and men in any given society.
A working definition of gender expertise was agreed during the programme, as being “qualifications in
socio-economic analysis, and demonstrated experience in, and commitment to, exploring the gender
equality dimensions of a given topic”.
Serious concerns were expressed by several people that a commitment to this issue should not lead to
unqualified women being placed in post. This is really quite an insulting suggestion when one considers
that people with limited qualifications have been placed in position under the current recruitment and
promotion regime, and their limitations are rarely ascribed to their sex. On the other hand, some
participants in the discussions felt that there has been a long history of preference for male candidates at
ITU. The question is not to promote unqualified women, but rather to ensure that qualified women are not
being excluded, and that ITU, and its partners and members, are not deprived of women’s voice in their
Research on organisational development and human resource management has identified the universal
phenomenon that recruiters and those responsible for identifying consultants tend to do so from among their
own networks and circles of contacts, and also tend to select people perceived as being “like themselves”.
There is need of a review of BDT process, through which expertise is identified, to ensure access to the
widest possible pool, and to maximize objectivity.
Several suggestions were made to support an expanded pool of available expertise.
• Support a continuous dialogue on this issue to dispel misconceptions about its intent (i.e. that it will
lead to the recruitment and promotion of unqualified women).
• The Gender Unit could take steps to add code(s) to Codification that reflect gender expertise
• Strengthen inclusion of female experts in Consultant Roster
• The Gender Unit and others should be pro-active in identifying suitably qualified women,
especially at regional and national levels, who can be drawn into ITU processes
• Draw on the Working Group for Gender Equality, both as a resource in itself, and as a source of
4. Information and statistics
Many BDT staff are involved in compiling statistics and maintaining databases on a range of topics, for
both internal and external use. It was acknowledged that the absence of data on the participation of men and
women in meetings, and in end-use of ICTs, inhibits any momentum for change in this area, and that
expanding disaggregation, and providing time-series, are therefore important contributions.
Several suggestions were made for strengthening the capability of these statistical processes to contribute to
greater gender equality within BDT and in its programmes.
• Include a question on gender equality or gender balance in survey
Partnership, Promotion & Membership:
• Explore possibilities for expanded database to reflect gender equality policies or concerns of
partners, both in terms of questions and search options
• Explore the possibility of linking the gender questionnaire with the PPM database
Market, Economics and Finance:
• Move actively towards one survey questionnaire on gender and ICTs (based on Eurostat model)
• Move actively towards all countries completing the existing questionnaire, including the
• Share information more systematically
Human Resources Development:
• Prepare comparative statistics on male and female involvement in workshops: male female
percentage in applications, participation, and dropout.
• Collect and disseminate comparative statistics on participation in meetings by each Administration
5. Internal issues
While internal issues were outside the terms of reference for the capacity development programme (which
focused on programme activities), the issue that was raised most consistently, and in every meeting, was a
perceived unequal treatment of female staff at ITU, and therefore cannot be ignored in this report. It was
noted that it is not credible for an organisation to call for gender equality in the conduct of its programme,
while practicing unequal treatment internally.
There was a strong consensus that there is unequal treatment, except among some general service staff that
felt that they had made the personal choice to remain at more junior levels. However, personal choice alone
is unlikely to explain the significant discrepancies at senior levels. While there is equal pay for equal work,
there are very few women in senior decision-making and agenda-setting positions in BDT, and promotion
patterns are felt to be uneven. There is also a perception that male staff typically enter the organisation at
higher levels than women entrants.
The concern is to ensure that qualified women are not being inadvertently excluded from contributing to
ITU goals, given the general experience mentioned above that in selecting and appointing colleagues to
positions, most managers tend to favour those perceived to be “like themselves”.
Three main suggestions were made to address this problem:
• Pending the attainment of parity at the D1 levels and above, it may be useful to include senior
female staff on the Management Committee (this proposal was agreed by the Director of BDT at
the closing plenary meeting).
• Undertake a survey on staffing issues in order to identify any inequities, updating and expanding
the data from 2001, and address the following issues:
• Number and percent of men and women at all levels
• Number and percent of male and female entrants at all levels
• Number and percent of men and women more than 3 years and more than 5 years in post
• Number and percent of men and women promoted from G to P
• Exit survey, number and percent of men and women leaving the organization at each level, and
reasons for leaving.
• The organization may wish to consider mechanisms to ensure that promising female members of
staff are exposed to management experience to qualify them for promotion, and are treated with
professional respect (for example, it was reported that female professional staff are more likely to
be requested to take the minutes of meetings than male participants at meetings)
Closing Plenary Meeting.
The closing plenary meeting took place in the afternoon of Friday 2 May. The meeting was led by Mr.
Touré, Director of BDT, with Akiko Kojima of the ITU Human Resource Department in the Chair. Ingunn
Yssen, Senior Gender Advisor, gave a presentation. 43 members of BDT staff attended the meeting.
Approximately 25 percent of the participants were men.
Each unit briefed Mr. Touré on the outcomes of their meeting and subsequent discussions that took place in
several cases. They advised the plenary of the suggestions that they had made for continuing action.
The general service staff raised the issue of fair treatment. Most feel that they made the choice to remain at
relatively junior levels in the organization because of their family commitments. However, others feel that
it is very unfortunate if these commitments are assumed, and their careers suffer even if they have no
families, or are well organised and do not allow their domestic responsibilities to intrude on their work.
There is a concern that the perception of family obligations (which male staff are assumed not to have) can
be deleterious to their careers, and to ITU maximizing the available talents among its staff.
Partnership, Promotion and Membership Unit (PPM) shared an initial disaggregation of its database of
contacts and Sector Members. This revealed that 19 percent of contact people in the Contacts database, and
15 percent of contact people in the Sector Members database are female. PPM is hoping to be able to use
this baseline to demonstrate a rising proportion over the years. While having female contact people does
not in itself constitute evidence of gender mainstreaming, these contacts may form the core of a group with
whom BDT may wish to initiate discussions with Administrations on expanded participation of their female
staff in BDT-convened meetings.
Administration & Finance Unit proposed that, pending the attainment of gender balance among D-level
staff, BDT might wish to appoint senior women to the Management Committee. Mr. Touré concurred with
this suggestion, with immediate effect. There was some discussion on what the implications of this were,
and Mr. Touré clarified that the women would be on the Committee in their capacity as managers, just like
any other member, and would not be there to “represent” female staff (in the manner of a union). Similarly,
just like other members of the Management Committee, it would not be feasible to designate alternates.
The meeting closed on a positive note, with Mr. Toué confirming his commitment to gender equality and
gender mainstreaming in BDT programmes, and his intention to move forward with it in the context of the
Gender Mainstreaming in the Conduct of Meetings
Adapted from the UNDP Guidance Note on Gender Mainstreaming 1997
Office meetings of all kinds, and inter-agency and NGO meetings.
1. Are staff members consistently aware of the relevant gender issues when attending
meetings of all kinds?
2. Do staff members consistently raise the relevant gender issues at meetings in a concise,
effective and relevant manner?
3. Do staff members consistently support colleagues when they raise gender issues at
4. Do staff members, especially senior management, seek to ensure gender balance in all
committees, sub-committees and decision-making fora?
5. Do staff members systematically network and get briefed on gender equality issues prior to
a key meeting in order to facilitate the positive outcome of the meeting with regard to these
6. Do official responsibilities at meetings (chair, agenda setting, minutes, rapporteur) rotate
among staff on a systematic basis?
7. Are meetings in general well managed, and focused on outputs?
8. Are decisions taken in an open, inclusive and consultative manner, and taken forward from
one level of decision-making to the next in a systematic and transparent manner?
Special events (conferences, workshops, seminars, press conferences,
launchings, receptions, etc.)
1. Have gender equality priorities been reflected in the selection of topics and agendas for
2. Are there consistent mechanisms in place to ensure that women and men participate
equally in special events as speakers, chairpersons, decision-makers etc. and are equally
consulted during preparations and follow-up?
3. Are all participants made aware of the gender dimensions of the special event, through
background documentation, presentations, agenda-setting and through the discussions at
4. Is there gender balance on all panels and in session officials (chairs, note-takers etc)?
5. Have steps been taken to encourage the appointment of people with knowledge of gender
issues as Study Group Rapporteurs.
6. Is the press informed of the gender dimensions of the event as part of the press briefing?
7. Will an individual or team compile the report with competence in the relevant gender
equality issues, and in gender mainstreaming?
Core Messages on Gender Mainstreaming
• Gender mainstreaming is mandated by every government (Beijing Declaration) and
every UN Agency (ECOSOC Agreed Conclusions, June 1997) as the methodology
for the systematic attainment of gender equality,
• The UN-system definition of gender mainstreaming is “the process of assessing the
implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, polices
or programmes in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as
well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of design,
implementation, monitoring and evaluation so that women and men benefit equally
and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality”
• Gender mainstreaming is not an end in itself, but has the purpose of contributing to
measurable improvements in the status of women, and in equality between women
and men in the community or sector served.
• The minimum objective of gender mainstreaming is to ensure that interventions do
not increase inequalities and discrimination.
• Gender mainstreaming typically involves changes in “ways of doing” in the agency
seeking to implement policies and strategies for gender equality, and this if often its
most challenging dimension.
• Gender mainstreaming involves influencing key decision-making processes,
• Gender mainstreaming is a process that requires a focus on results.
• Gender mainstreaming requires partnerships and joint undertakings between women
and men, because gender equality is not simply a women’s issue, but profoundly
important to democratic process, productivity and development. Specific strategies
may be needed to address and involve men and boys in partnerships for greater
• Gender mainstreaming requires political savvy and resilience, and competency in:
• conceptual clarity and intellectual rigour,
• socio-economic analysis,
• identification and seizure of programme and project cycle entry points,
• strategic planning
• knowledge and information management,
• networking and advocacy,
• leadership and process management
Of these competencies, the last four are the most important, and most often
overlooked, while the most critical competency of all is
leadership and process management