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UN Elects First Female Tech Agency Secretary-General

Doreen Bogdan-Martin has been elected as the first woman to lead the UN's telecom agency in a vote against a Russian candidate.

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American Doreen Bogdan-Martin has been overwhelmingly elected as the first woman to lead the UN’s telecom agency in a vote that pitted her against a Russian candidate.

Bogdan-Martin will become the next secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). She claimed a landslide 139-25 victory on September 29 over Russia’s former deputy telecom minister, Rashid Ismailov, at an ITU conference in Bucharest.

The ITU plays an important global role in setting the technical standards underlying mobile phones, television, and the Internet.

The vote to lead the Geneva-based agency was unrelated to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but was seen as a test of Russia’s standing in the United Nations.

Though Moscow’s reliable friends in UN circles have dwindled, it had enough support among ITU member states to block a bid to stop Russian candidates from running for the top post.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the election of Bogdan-Martin “reflects a broad endorsement by member states of [her] vision for universal connectivity, digital empowerment, and leadership at the ITU that is innovative, collaborative, and inclusive.”

Bogdan-Martin said in her campaign that she supported getting more of the world connected to the Internet and pushing forward on high-speed access.

“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,” she said.

Bogdan-Martin will take over from Houlin Zhao of China when his second four-year term as ITU secretary-general expires at the end of the year.

 

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