Doreen Bogdan-Martin defeated her Russian opponent Rashid Ismailov by 139 votes to 25. She became the first woman to be elected secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the main technology agency within the UN, reports BBC.
Founded in 1865 to manage the first international telegraph networks, the ITU now plays an important role in promoting the use of radio, satellite communications and the Internet. She will succeed Houlin Zhao, who has held the position since 2014. The agency itself is responsible for many aspects of international communications, including the distribution of satellite orbits around the world, the coordination of technical standards, and the improvement of infrastructure in developing countries.
There was concern ahead of the election, as Russian opponent of Ms Bogdan-Martin had previously called for international regulation of the Internet.
“Whether it’s today’s children or our children’s children, we need to provide them with a strong and stable foundation for growth,” Ms Bogdan-Martin said following her win. “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 believes that the ITU has an opportunity to help solve many of these issues. In her previous position as director of the ITU Telecommunications Development bureau, Ms Bogdan-Martin dealt with issues of job creation, digital skills development, diversity and gender equality. Her candidacy for this position was supported by US President Joe Biden, who noted that she has the “integrity, experience, and vision necessary to transform the digital landscape”.
“She understands the importance of connecting every school to the internet and making sure every student can access virtual learning, providing women and girls the digital tools they need to succeed, and extending the benefits of online health and educational resources,” said the US president.