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December 7, 2018

Women shaping tech – and our world’s future – at TEDxPlaceDesNationsWomen

By ITU News

Inspirational leaders in gender equality brought the spirit of “Ideas Worth Spreading” to the United Nations headquarters in Geneva this week during the TEDxPlaceDesNationsWomen event, where they enlightened the audience on a wide range of topics connected to gender equality.

Amid the melting ceilings of the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room – a room usually devoted to the high-level meetings of the Human Rights Council – speakers wowed the packed crowd with incredible stories of perseverance, showing how women’s rights and human rights are inexorably linked, and how the fight for gender equality continues today.

From leading women in the tech sector to female union organizers and ‘He for she’ parliamentarians, the diversity of speakers reinforced how women’s inequality is still felt in nearly every sphere of decision-making.

At a time when movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp are taking root, the hosts Corinne Momal-Vanian and Melissa Fleming reinforced the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ message that “women’s inequality is the unfinished business of our time.”

Women building the tech that will ‘define our future’

Among the inspirational speakers was Mariana Costa, a software engineer and educator from Peru, who explained how her organization,  Laboratoria, is changing the face of the tech industry by empowering women to join the technical workforce, and how diversity benefits everyone.

“A world where women are part of designing and building technology is a world where women are part of shaping our future, and that will be a better world for all,” she exclaimed.

As an associated agency of the TEDx event, ITU invited and sponsored Costa, the co-founder and CEO at Laboratoria, to speak about her experience of transforming Latin America’s tech sector.

“As technology became more important for business, women were pushed out of the equation. But tech is not just any other sector, it is the field that will define our future,” she said.

Laboratoria is a 2018 EQUALS in Tech Award Winner in the Skills Category. And Laboratoria recently joined the ITU-ILO Digital Skills for Decent Jobs for Youth campaign, which has the goal to train 5 million youth with job-ready skills.

“We’re a social enterprise that’s working to give thousands of women in Latin America the skills they need to build a career in the tech sector.  We do this because the tech sector is growing. There are a lot of job opportunities and it desperately needs not only talent, but diverse talent,” she explained in an ITU interview.

Other outstanding stories came from Nighat Dad via a recorded TED Talk Video. As a Pakistani lawyer and Internet activist, she runs the not-for-profit organisation Digital Rights Foundation to combat online violence against women. Her story about cyber harassment in Pakistan shows how online discrimination is a form of oppression that keeps women offline and away from educational and vocational opportunities.

While each story was unique and powerful, the crowd was moved to their feet by the story of a Syrian refugee, Maya Ghazal, who shows the power of inclusion and breaking stereotypes about women of colour.

Maya has become well-known for her fight to overcome stereotypes and discrimination and her belief in the power of education to transform the lives of girls around the world.

Each one of the speakers was unique and powerful. While each face their own challenges, they were united by their commitment to equality for all.

For more information about the TEDxPlaceDesNationsWomen event visit the website here.

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Women shaping tech – and our world’s future – at TEDxPlaceDesNationsWomen

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