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Leslie Shannon, head of ecosystem and trend scouting at Nokia, delivered the opening remark for the panel titled “Women in ICT.” The discussion focused on several important topics: the role of women in the ICT sector; the added values that women bring to the table; gender equality in telecom and ICT fields; personal experiences and milestones; and gender equality.

The panel’s moderator was Rana Hajir, head of IT Solutions, HPE with the panelists being Dr. Atsuko Okuda, head of ITU Asia-Pacific; Melike Kara Tanrikulu, general manager, fintech, e& life; May Li, solution and marketing VP, Huawei Middle East Carrier Business Group; Dr. Nadine Akkari, associate professor, Jeddah International College, KSA; Dr. Linda Kassem, senior policy and legal advisor - lead trade negotiator; Sylvia Anampiu, managing director, MTN GlobalConnect Kenya; and Jamal Najem, program director, du.

Dr. Atsuko Okuda kicked off the discussion by stating the importance of having women at the table in the ICT sector and how it’s a struggle to recruit women ICT leaders. For her input, May Li noted that with new policies, “we’ve encouraged more girls to become tech leaders and participate in the digital transformation.”

Joining the discussion, Sylvia Anampiu commented on empowering women: “In Africa, we believe once we empower women, we empower families and empower communities.” Dr. Linda Kassem noted, “I believe having women in leadership positions in key organizations is important in leading development strategies worldwide.” On this topic, Dr. Nadine Akkari added a further thought: “We really need to have programs in place to empower women in the ICT industry.”

In terms of values and skills, Jamal Najem commented, “There are some skills that women have that make them exceptional in certain fields, which make them very strategic in a subtle way.” On this matter, Sylvia Anampiu also noted that women bring different thought leadership into a field, a different perspective.

May Li added, “With women, there is more emphasis on leadership teams to gel. Dr. Okuda spoke about digital inclusion, reminding all that “it is possible, and women have a significant role to play.”

Najem noted that women should be encouraged to dive into the ICT field: “We need to teach our daughters and our sons that, for a woman, anything is possible.”

Dr. Akkari ended her talk with a very beautiful saying: “We should address this balance as soon as possible; no one is going to wait. Every woman should be driven by her dream and her confidence.”

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