IGF 2019 – Day 2 – Convention Hall I-D – OF #23 EQUALS in Tech Awards

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin, Germany, from 25 to 29 November 2019. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 



>> CHRIS KOVER:  Good evening everyone and welcome to the 2019 EQUALS in Tech Awards.

>> CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  Every year these awards recognize the power of digital technologies to transform the lives of women everywhere.

>> CHRIS KOVER:  The EQUALS in Tech Awards also celebrate women's leadership in the tech sector and recognize outstanding research efforts in gathering the crucial data we need to help close the digital gender divide.  They are made possible by the generous support of some amazing sponsors:  The Internet Society, the Governments of Germany and Switzerland, and satellite operator in Marset.

My name is Chris Kover.  I'm an editor at Netzpolitik.org.

>> CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  And, I'm Christoph Seidler, for DER SPIEGEL, and we're delighted to be your MCs for this inspiring, hopefully inspiring evening.

Tonight, you're going to meet some amazing people whose actions and commitment have earned them global recognition in the firm of one of the prestigious EQUALS in Tech Awards, but first.

>> CHRIS KOVER:  So, the mission of the EQUALS in Tech Awards is to honor people who are helping girls and women gain equal access, skills, and opportunities online and in the tech industry, and although encouraging developments took place in the last years, a whole lot remains to be done.

>> CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  Indeed.  And, this is a chart showing who works at some of the largest and most influential companies in the world, and these companies, they shape, through their technologies, how we work, what we shop, how we see the world, how we communicate with each other, yet the people who developed these technologies today are overwhelmingly male, and also white.

>> CHRIS KOVER:  So, this is what we see in the chart.  What we cannot see in this chart, but know from other research is, behind it, the women who actually work in IT in these companies are also much more likely to be stuck at junior levels, as in other areas the tech sector also shows the higher you go up, the fewer women you find.

>> CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  As June Sugiyama, a tech professional working in Silicon Valley for more than 20 years put it, and I quote now, "By now I've grown used to being basically one of the only women in the room, and I'm used ‑‑ to walking into both young startup and tech giants and seeing the woman behind the receptionist desk and realizing that she is the lone female."  And, June further quotes that she has come to meet ups and networking events and those, at times, felt more to her like a frat party and not so much like a gathering of like‑minded techies.

>> CHRIS KOVER:  So, one could say this is a social justice issue, right.  It's just plain fare to have women and other minorities presented in this Field.  It's also a way to avoid developing tech that will then later hurt these communities and people when it is deployed outside of the lab.

>> CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  And, to get more women in the industry, it's also just plain smart, because it is an industry that is so desperately looking for talent, and why would you want to discount a large part of the population.

>> CHRIS KOVER:  So, this is why we have gathered here today, to celebrate and honor those who do make a change.

>> CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  And, we're very, very happy that all of us will be able to hear some of these success stories from all around the world.  And, as always, it has been very difficult to choose the five winners, because there was such an amazing group of finalists from all over the world, and let's take a moment to pay tribute to this year's 15 distinguished EQUALS in Tech finalists.

Ideally there will be a little film here getting ‑‑ helping you to get to know the finalists.  You'll get to know the winners later, so I promise, but since we're still missing some of the brilliant people that unfortunately will not get an award tonight, we would love you to see the film, so let's see if that happens at one point or another.

There it is.  No.  That's us.

>> CHRIS KOVER:  We are not the finalists.  (Laughter)


>> CHRIS KOVER:  We can just go on and see if maybe we can go back to the video later.


So, to set the tone for this evening, we would now like to invite one of the founders of EQUALS, Doreen Bactin Martin, up to the podium to say a few words.


>> Doreen Martin:  Thank you so much, Chris and Christoph, and sometimes the technology doesn't cooperate, so hopefully we will get that video up before we announce our winners.

So, good evening, ladies and gentlemen.  It's really a great pleasure to see you all here.  As some of you may recall in 2015 when we co‑founded EQUALS, the global partnership for gender equality in a digital age, we did it believing that linking the untapped power of girls and women as agents of change with ICTs, the most powerful tools for change ever invented, that we could truly transform the world.  And, I think we were right, as you will see from some of the winners tonight.

The talented women and dedicated men that we have met, the ambitious projects, actions, community actions that we've been part of, the grass roots, social impact that we've seen has been really incredible.  And, I would like to pay tribute and recognize the hundreds of organizations that have been participating in the EQUALS in Tech Awards since we started, and really their stories have been truly inspiring.

Tonight's winning projects are absolutely outstanding.  Choosing the winners, as Chris and Christoph mentioned, it was not easy, every year we think it will get easier and it wasn't.

We had over 200 amazing competing submissions from all over the world, and we're very excited to recognize our winners tonight.

Every year these new projects build on the great ideas of previous success stories.  Every year the number of initiatives really making a difference to the lives of women and girls in their communities continues to grow, and every year new technological advances offer new opportunities, greater reach, and of course more powerful results.

Ladies and gentlemen, from me, the EQUALS in Tech Awards ceremony is really one of the highlights of my year, not just because it's a living testimony to my belief in the power of women and technology, but because it really does show us up close how the small change we make at the local level can actually amplify into change at the regional level and, of course, amplify into change at the global level.

It also shows us how our ideas, our commitment can end up influencing public policy, and also private sector engagements.

How we can truly change the world.  That's what we will see tonight.

Next year the international community is going to be commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Beijing plants form.  Beijing 25 EQUALS the community to be able to leverage global activism around this important milestone, and to also further our advance in making technology work for all of us.

Empowering women and girls through digital technology will be absolutely vital to achieving the sustainable development goals, and tonight's amazing winners leave me no doubt whatsoever that achieving digital gender equality is within our reach.

Thank you very much.


>> CHRIS KOVER:  Thank you, Doreen, for those inspiring words.

>> CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  And, as we were told during your speech, the film is now ready, so now hold your breath for the 15 finalists of this year's EQUALS in Tech Awards.



>> CHRIS KOVER:  A big round of applause for all the finalists we just saw.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are very privileged to have here with us tonight a very special guest.

>> CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  Her name is Makeda Antoine‑Cambridge, and she is Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations and specialized agencies in Europe and to Austria and Italy.

>> CHRIS KOVER:But, even more than that, our guest has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Systems and worked as a tech professional for over 20 years in high‑level roles around the world before joining the diplomatic community.

CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:So, Your Excellency, may we invite you to podium to share your thoughts on the value and importance of getting more women into the technology center.


>> Makeda Antoine‑Cambridge:  Thank you, and good afternoon to everyone.

Congratulations to the organizers, EQUALS Global Partnership.  Grateful for the invitation to participate in the EQUALS high level government roundtable and the awards.  Congratulations to all the finalists.

Thank you, Ms. Baldwin Martin Director of technology communication bureau, of the of the ITU for the invitation.

I would also like to acknowledge Ms. Nicol Patterson and bridge it Lewis, founders of she leaves it, for doing amazing work in the Caribbean with the Caribbean girls’ hackathon.


>> Makeda Antoine‑Cambridge:  Yes.  Tobago around the Caribbean girls’ hackathon, and congratulations to SAGS, is sister school of my alumni.

In the next few minutes I will tell you a little about my Country, my family, my career, and just share some of my thoughts.

I come from a multicultural multi religious twin island in the Republic called Trinidad and Tobago.  With a population of 1.3 million, east Indians, African, mixed Arabs, Chinese, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, and known for the best food in the world, and I saw that unapologetically.  Rooty double spin OUT.  We call ourselves Trinias for short, and we say God is a tree.

What are we known for, carnival, the greatest shore on Earth and the bird place.  Have you heard of the international criminal court?  Do some research.  It originated in one of our former Prime Minister and President.  You may know of our athletes, Ata Baldwin, Dwight York.  You may know of our artists, Marshall Mantano, Calipsa, Ross, and our sweet music.

I'm told there is almost everything in Berlin, and you know there is a Berlin Trini carnival.  It is hold in a street party in Berlin.

Of course, you know Nicki Manaj, or Facebook Chief Diversity Officer Maxine.  Are you on LinkedIn, Bridget Hican, author of the Futility Leadership Rise of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence?  On LinkedIn, she is the second most connected women and most endorsed person with 2.3 million follow lowers.  All Trini as.  As my Prime Minister may say, we may be small, but we are significant.

We have the first female precedents, precedents Paula Weeks who has pushed for national gender policy, national eCommerce strategy and national ICT plan.  He also focuses on a commitment to universal education, which is ridiculously important for a young woman to be educated.

For the first time it is a member of the CDAW committee as of 2018, and in 2019 we are about to launch our first innovation lab, a partnership between be mobile and the University of the West Indies.

I am No. 7 in a family of nine, with a father who said fear no man but God, and whatever boy can do, a girl can do even better.

His life mantra was, if there is a will, there is a way.  Coming from very humble beginnings, I had to take care of my goats before going to primary school and fetch water from the neighborhood standpipe.  My mother always believed that education was one ticket out of poverty.

Even if University education is now free, in my time it was not.  I did my undergrad on a wing and a prayer, literally.  But my dad would always support me.  I must say, though, there is a role for government and our private sector.  My graduate studies were funded by my government and employers.  I stumbled upon a tech career through a friend, but I loved it.  Because I felt like I was making a difference.  Helping find solution, improving the lives of people, in this journey, young and older, I encourage you two things.  Who is your support system, and what is your why?  Is it a friend?  A teacher?  A Pastor?  A priest?  An aunt?  And why?  Why are you choosing a tech career?  If that choice is already made, what area are you choosing and why?  Programming, databases, AI, cybersecurity, I encourage you not to just be a passive employee, but a creator.

For me, when the going gets tough, I think at my mother and grandmother and aunts would never had these opportunities.

In 1998 I started with teaching high school student’s ICT skills.  Microsoft.  Back in the day.  Word access, Excel pour point.  And, in 2006 I started my telecom career on the verge of the liberalization of the mobile market.

Prior to that we had a monopoly, one mobile operator.  Exciting times.  Just give you an idea of what I've worked on.  I've been fortunate to work on projects like ruling out computer rights in my Country, national fiber networks, introduction of websites for all government ministries, ruling out 3G, 4G, and networks across the Caribbean, South America and South Pacific, ruling out wireless broadband networks, developed and offered packages to customers where mobile operators moved from mobile only services to full‑blown entity services offering TV and security services.  I've seen mobile and cell phones and WhatsApp becoming ubiquitous and track decline in revenues associated with the de‑line in the use of land line.

Fortunate to live in Kingston, Jamaica, Dubai, and launch services in 12 African countries, negotiate with some of the top mobile operators in the world, and manage revenues more than 500 million dollars, I used to have a Nokia, a blackberry, and now an iPhone.  As is mentioned earlier, normally the only woman in the room, and definitely the only woman at the negotiating table, but I was really blessed to have amazing bosses who saw my potential.  And, I believed whatever opportunity I got, and made the best out of it.  Go hard or go home became literal for me.  Consider that ten years of my 20‑year career I spent outside of my countries.

I have, and still continue to experience the sexism, the gender pick up the boys club.  I look at the not so good experiences as lessons, how far have we come?  How far do we still have to go?  We have to still work twice as hard to even be acknowledged.  Why did I stay?  What did I love?

I loved the results.  I loved challenging myself.  I loved improving the lives of people.  The travel, the new experiences, the friends from all over the world.  But then I thought I needed to give back, so in 2012 I launched my charity, Genesis the movement, along with my sisters and girlfriends, as all women led, not intentional, all women led, and so far we've launched in 14 schools, one University, six high schools, seven primary schools, touching more than a hundred lives and spend more than 75,000 TT in the last seven years.  We acknowledge a reward most improved children awarding them with a tablet, introducing them to technology for educational purpose.

In 2018 we launched at our first university the excellence award, where two young women pursuing a BSE in computing receives a total of 13,500 titi towards tuition or living experience.  We are in the age of the fourth industrial revolution where technology as impacted all areas of our lives and disrupted all technologies.  If you are a young woman in the room, consider yourself a creator.  Look at all the problems in the world and you can use technology to solve any one of them, from climate change to crime to agriculture, to digital justice.  You name it.  A problem, a challenge, a situation, and technology can be used.

Just yesterday I was reading that a digital learning platform to help students is displaced by hurricane Dorian.  Approximately a thousand students will now receive unparallel academic support with the introduction of a one‑on‑one digital learning platform.  With more young ladies at efforts, why are they not choosing stem and ICT?  How are we going to change this?  It starts with us.  Yes, you, and I.  If you are government, NGO, or potential partner in the room, I ask you, what are you contributing towards addressing and reducing gender digital divide, and if you are doing something, do you genuinely believe that you are doing enough?  What are your incentives?  Your policies for the developed and developing world?

Today young women in the world, go do it.  Make it happen.  Create it.  Find your tribe.  And, it doesn't hurt that you get paid very well.  You meet really cool people.  And, you get to travel all over the world and you're constantly learning.

I will leave with you a few tips from a few successful people that continue to inspire me today.  Bill Gates says:  "Make a difference."

Warren Buffett says:  "Don't care what others think."

Steve Jobs says:  "Stay hungry; stay foolish."

Oprah says:  "You can have it all, just not all at once."

Maya Angelou says:  "If you're always trying to be normal, you never know how amazing you can be."

Nelson Mandela says:  "As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

Michelle Obama says:  "Don't ever underestimate the importance you can have, because history has shown that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own."

My Daddy would say:  "If there is a will, there is a way."

I like to say:  "Feel the fear and do it anyway."

Thank you.


>> CHRIS KOVER:  Thank you.  Thank you, Ambassador, for those words and also for sharing your very personal story with us here today.

It now gives us great pleasure to invite Clare Sibthorpe, Head of Connected Women and Connected Society at GSMA and Leader of the EQUALS Access Coalition to present the first EQUALS in Tech Award.

>> Claire Sibthorpe:  Thank you very much, Chris and Christoph.

As leader of the EQUALS Access Coalition it gives me enormous pleasure to announce this year's EQUALs in Tech Award winner in the category of Access.

This year's award goes to Ramo Dinarak for DINARAK Mobile Money Female Agent in Jordan.


>> CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  So, first of all, congratulations.  Let me take the opportunity to ask a little bit about DINARAK.

So, since you guys launched, you have reached about 38,000 women, if I remember that correctly, and, I'm sure you have even more ambitious plan.  So, what is the plan for the next five years?  How many women do you plan to reach within the next five years?

>> R. Dinarak:  Thank you so much.  Actually, we started in April 2017.  We launched north of Jordan, and now we're expanding for the 12th governance.  By the five ‑‑ next five years, we will reach half million females in Jordan.  We will provide them with convenient and affordable digital financial services.

CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  That sounds very ambitious, so the best of luck to you, and congratulations again.

Thank you so much.


>> CHRIS KOVER:  Let me now invite Cedric Wachholz, Chief of ICT in education, culture and science with UNESCO to present the second EQUALS in Tech Award, this time in the category skills.

>> Cedric Wachholz:  Thank you so much, Chris.

I'm very happy to announce today the very, in the vital area of digital skills, this year's EQUALS in Tech Award, and the winner is The Women's Technology Empowerment Centre from Nigeria.


>> CHRIS KOVER:  Auri, I am sure you are in touch with many amazing women.  What were the most recent projects that you supported that really stuck out to you?

>> Auri:  Thank you so much.  Yes, you're right.  We work with incredible girls and women and girls who grew up to become incredible women, and I think all or projects are contributing to raising these amazing women.  I can talk about all our alumni.  Sophia Atendar, she creates camp, when she was just a teenage, and now she is studying Computer Science in the University.  We have Fara, who also attended other camp and she is studying cybersecurity, and we have Chama, who also attended our camp, has come back to volunteer and starting robotics engineering.

I think for us our greatest project is supporting all these young women, offering them volunteer opportunities, offering them more training, and most importantly, mentorship and support so they can really take their place as women in technology.

>> CHRIS KOVER:  Thank you so much for doing this amazing work.


>> CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  Thank you.  Thank you.

Let me now invite Rinela Duraham, Senior Vice President for Strategy and Implementation at ISOC to present one of the two EQUALS in Tech Awards in the category of leadership.

>> Rinela Duraham:  Thank you, Chris and Christoph.

Hello everyone.  My name is Rinalia Duraham, there is a letter missing on the slide, but no matter.  I'm very happy to be here with you today, particularly for this occasion.  EQUALS have two awards in the category of leadership.  The first recognizes leadership achievements in a tech sector.  The second recognizes entrepreneur leadership in a woman-led business.

I would like to invite my colleague, Jorge, with the Swiss federal office of communications to join me here to help me confer these awards on this year's outstanding leaders.


>> Jorge:  Yes.  Hello, good afternoon.  Thank you so much, Rinalia.  It is really wonderful to be able to join you all here to recognize and to celebrate these exceptional winners from all around the world.

So, in this sense, I am delighted to confer the EQUALS in tech 2019 award for leadership in tech sector to an organization doing an amazing job in expanding opportunities for employment to women all around the world.  The award goes to SheWorks!, Savina Misvimi.


>> CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  So, Savina, let me take the opportunity to ask you one thing, because basically these days everybody seems to be talking about machine learning, and you guys took that technology and used it to connect unemployed women with potential employers, and I'm sure a lot of people in the room, including myself ask the question, how did you get the idea to leverage that technology?

>> Savina Misvimi:  Thank you, and it actually comes to a personal story.  I got married at 35, and of course the options to meet someone on the real physical world were limited, so I got the inspiration from match.com.  I figured it was a numbers game, so I apply the same concept of data science machine learning to connect wonderful women from around the world with job opportunities that could be done online, remotely, because at the end of the day, it's a numbers game.

Thank you.


>> ANDREW SULLIVAN:  Savina, thank you so much.


>> Now for the second leadership award.  It gives me great pleasure to announce that the EQUALS in Tech 2019 Leadership Award for outstanding female entrepreneurship goes to Kumasi Hive, Ghana.


>> So, Sandra, your programs have already led to 60 female ed spec startups at this point.  Why is it so important to you to get more women involved in this tech sector?

>> Thank you so much for the question.  I would say, in short, bridging the whole gender divide is a problem that still exists, and then in order to do this, we need to get more women into tech.  We need to create an inclusive environment, we need to create an equal environment, whether it be gender equality for women in tech, as well, therefore we need to get more women into tech.

Thank you.

>> CHRIS KOVER:  Thanks a lot.


CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  So, thank you both, and we have already reached the fifth and final EQUALS in Tech Award for 2019.

>> To confer this final award in the area of research, please welcome to the stage Dr. Wasgas, Executive Director for the Berkman Klein Center of Internet Society at Harvard Law School.

>> Dr. Wasgas:  Thank you very much.  Good evening everyone.  What a wonderful occasion.  Indeed, already the last award, but by no means the least.

I think all of us who do work in tech and gender in that space understand how urgent it is that we have more data, that we have better metrics that help us to close the gender gaps.

It's currently the case that we often lack the data to formulate our policies and strategies, to really make our strategies and interventions as powerful as they could be, and to track the progress that we collectively make together.  So, more research indeed is needed, and so I'm very pleased tonight to recognize and celebrate with you the wonderful work that many colleagues, including many female colleagues are doing in the research space to help us bridge the gender gap.

So, this year's award for outstanding research that has made a positive contribution to closing the digital gender divide goes to the Gina Davis Institute and Lyda Hill Philanthropies for Portray Her: Representations of Women STEM Characters in Media.



>> CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  Mary Ellen, imagine for one second I'm not that good looking moderator standing next to you, but imagine I am a movie director, and I plan to shoot a Sci‑Fi movie, and now I'm coming to you because I know you know a lot about representation in media and I come to you and ask you:  So, what do I need to think about when I do this film?  How do I need to portray female characters in my Sci‑Fi movie?

What is your advice to me?

>> Mary Ellen:  My advice to you, is first of all, you're very, very powerful, because contents creators have the ability to change and portray life as it should be on screen with women actually being 50% or more representation in the production, which is something that we're not seeing right now.  What we're seeing right now is men two to one in lead positions and speaking time, so you've got the opportunity to really to change the world.

In terms of a Sci‑Fi movie, what it's all about is space, and when you think about space and you think about the fact that the world is changing to become more intersectional, more multicultural, you really need to think about the casting of characters, not just the leads, but the characters throughout the film, and in STEM films, you need to think about what they're doing and not just putting them in life sciences roles, but putting them in technology, engineering, and other roles.

So, what I would suggest that you do is actually look at the script, change all of the names to female characters, and see if it works.


Good luck.

CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  Thank you so much.  That sounds like a really good plan.  Thank you.

>> CHRIS KOVER:  Thank you.  What a great note to end on, because we are already coming to the end of this evening's award ceremony.  And, all the directors in the room and out there, now you know what you have to do.  So, thank you for that.

But, before we invite all the winners and presenters to join us for a photo, I would like to recognize two of our finalists who have come to Berlin for the Internet Governance Forum, and who have joined us at this ceremony.  Saba Khalid, and Sheryl VanDyke and Katay yeah, from the digit at the leadership institute.

Where are you?


Show yourselves.

CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  So, you already did that, but I think you can do better, so let's give them another round of applause, please.



CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  So, let's now invite all the winners and distinguished presenters to join us here in front of the audience for another group photo, and while everybody is going back to the stage and you're used to it now, give them another round of applause, please.


>> CHRISTOPH SEIDLER:  This picture was already an amazing picture, but what we would love to see is you here in front with us with all the winners.  So, if you don't mind, come here, join us, have your picture taken now, and, on the way, memorize the EQUALS sign.