International Telecommunication Union

Decorative image for the policy statement from International Telecommunication Union

Mr Chair,

Excellencies, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, 

I am deeply humbled…and filled with emotion… 

Let me start by expressing my appreciation and gratitude.

First let me recognize my fellow candidate. And all those running for ITU elected office…the large number of candidates is a testament to how much countries value ITU’s importance.

I also want to pay respect to Secretary-General Houlin Zhao and his leadership of the ITU.

Secretary-General Zhao,

Deputy Secretary-General Johnson,

Director Maniewicz,

Director Lee,

I thank you for your close cooperation and friendship.

To the United States’ Administration – and we have nine agencies present here…and others working on the home team –  I thank you… I thank you all for believing in me…and for putting me forward as a candidate for this immensely important position. 

This was a ‘whole of government’ effort, and I am grateful for all your support, dedication and hard work.

I would also like to recognize the private sector for their continuous backing. 

We have worked hard…for many, many months.

It was a real team effort.

I also want to recognize my husband, Jesús …..and my children Cecilia, Ana, Santiago and Alejandro.

Thank you for being my rock – my greatest supporters, always encouraging, and ever so patient.

To my friends and colleagues from around the world who have given me encouragement through this process, thank you.  

That brings me to you, our Member States.

I want to thank you for putting your trust in me to lead this great organization.  

This is an honour for me…and for my country.

I arrived at the ITU a young ‘20-something’ – with much to still learn – but knowing two things: I wanted to do good. And I wanted to serve the international community.

At that point, I never imagined that one day I would lead this organization.

I have worked for this moment for more than three decades, pioneering impactful initiatives to advance digital inclusion for all – from Giga, to EQUALS, Smart Villages and Islands, to the Broadband Commission, to Generation Connect…because I fully believe in the power and potential that connectivity brings to the economy, healthcare, education, employment, women and youth empowerment.

Four years ago you elected me as your Director of Development.   

Our team had ambitious plans. 

We came together to create a BDT that was fit for purpose. 

It was no easy task…change never is.

But we leveraged the commitment, the passion, and the talent of the amazing BDT team, coupled with your cooperation and support, and we made a difference, delivering on our mandate with a successful development conference.

It has been a tremendous privilege to serve as your Director, and I look forward to your support as we help take the ITU to the next level. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

I recognize that I take up this mantle when the world is facing significant challenges: escalating conflicts; a climate crisis; food security; gender inequalities; and the SDGs veering off track more and more.

Yet, for us, the ITU and its Members, it provides an opportunity – an opportunity to make a transformational contribution.

Our sector is one of continuous innovation that can be, and will be, a key enabler to facilitating resolution of many of these issues.

I bring a special skillset to this work.

I am the proud mother of four. They are my drive to create a better world – to be determined, creative, and to find solutions!

As Secretary General, I will continue to drive this institution to be innovative and increasingly relevant for our Member States, better positioning all of us to embrace this digital environment.

What we do now affects generations to come.

We are riding a powerful wave of innovation and growth and must use this opportunity to improve peoples’ lives – especially those who are excluded.

Whether it’s today’s children or our children’s children, we need to provide them a strong and stable foundation for growth.

Our success depends upon a united effort. 

The ITU is a union…a union of Members – each of you representing countries, companies, universities and other organizations. Together we are united in our hope and conviction that we can all work collectively to make a better-connected world for our communities and future generations.

At this Plenipotentiary, we will jointly develop our vision for the next four years in the ITU Strategic Plan, that will reflect our unity of purpose.

When talking about unity, we must recognize and respect diverse views, Those differences enrich us.

Yet there is also much that unites us.

We can all agree…on the need to invest every bit of our energy into connecting the unconnected.

This is no longer a want, but a must.

We can all agree on the need for partnerships, like Partner2Connect, which mobilized billions in commitments, demonstrating our ability to collaborate.

We can all agree on the need to raise the ITU’s performance – to make us more transparent, more accountable to you, our Members, as well as to increase our expertise and tackle problems with an evidence-based approach.

We will have our differences…but the beauty of this organization is our process…where together we search for unity and resolution.

We have much to do, and to do it we will need you, all our Members, to be involved.

We need your energy, your ideas, and your total commitment.

You have my total commitment.

Many of you have heard me speak about my father and his many life lessons.

My dad encouraged me in my studies…and my career choices… always making it clear that girls could do anything boys could.

He was my greatest supporter and would have been so proud. 

My mom has been a big champion throughout this process. 

She is filled with more energy than me, and gets full credit for teaching me the art of multitasking.

I know she is following remotely from our hometown in New Jersey – while likely doing three other things. Hi Mom.

Mothers, daughters, sisters, fathers, brothers, sons… today we made history. 

After 157 years, we shattered the glass ceiling…

I am so very grateful to you for all your support.  I hope this day will be an inspiration for other women to follow – I look forward to that.

The UN Secretary-General has said “We, the leaders, must deliver for we, the peoples”.

We need to deliver affordable, trusted and meaningful connectivity to all of the world’s people.

The world is counting on us.  And I am counting on all of you.

Growing up in New Jersey, it may not surprise you that I am a big Bruce Springsteen fan. 

In one of his songs, Bruce says, “talk about a dream, try to make it real”. 

Universal connectivity has been a dream for too many years. 

Let’s unite and make it real.

Connect and Unite!

Thank you.