Doreen Bogdan-Martin standing in front of Palais des Nations building (State Dept.)
Doreen Bogdan-Martin is seeking to lead the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union, based in Geneva, and expand internet access to everyone. (State Dept.)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people went online for work and school and to connect with family and friends. Yet more than 2.9 billion people still lack access to the internet, according to the United Nations.

If elected secretary-general of the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Doreen Bogdan-Martin would seek to ensure that everyone can enjoy the benefits of the digital age.

“Digital is rapidly rewriting the script that determines how we do business, how we interact and even how we raise our families,” Bogdan-Martin said. “My vision is to enable a trusted, connected digital future for all.”

Based in Geneva, the ITU helps to make broadband connections work globally, manages connections for spectrum and satellite orbital resources, and more. The ITU’s 193 member states will elect a new secretary-general at its Plenipotentiary Conference on September 29 in Bucharest, Romania.

If elected secretary-general, Bogdan-Martin also would seek to strengthen the ITU’s partnerships and ensure that the U.N. agency, where she has served since 1995, is led with integrity and accountability.

Experience and vision

Doreen Bogdan-Martin speaking at clear lectern with American flag in background (State Dept.)
Doreen Bogdan-Martin speaks to ITU Council delegates in March 2022 in Geneva. (State Dept.)

Bogdan-Martin brings 30 years of experience in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector and government relations to the ITU. She has served as director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Development Sector since January 2019, when she became the first woman to hold one of the ITU’s five elected leadership posts.

As development director, she has partnered with member states, the private sector, civil society and other U.N. agencies to connect unconnected communities and ensure that ITU resources get to the communities in greatest need. During the World Telecommunication Development Conference June 6–16 in Kigali, Rwanda, Bogdan-Martin helped raise more than $25 billion in pledges for connectivity projects through the Partner2Connect initiative she launched. These resources will assist communities in overcoming barriers to connectivity and extend the benefits of sustainable development to millions worldwide.

Bridging tech’s gender gap, empowering youth

Bogdan-Martin is passionate about ensuring equal access for girls and women in tech. Women are underrepresented in science and technology fields, making up one-third of the world’s researchers, according to the World Economic Forum. To help close the gender gap, she led the creation of Equals, a partnership of international organizations, businesses and others working to bridge the technology gender gap.

Through the Generation Connect initiative, Bogdan-Martin includes youth in addressing challenges of the digital age, including how to deploy technology for development, create a safer online world and prepare for the future of work. She also leads a collaboration with UNICEF, called the Giga project, launched in September 2019, to connect every school in the world to the internet.

Increasing connectivity is vital to achieving the United Nations sustainable development goals for 2030, Bogdan-Martin says.

“We will only properly unleash the vast, untapped power of digital technologies to change our world once we get everyone on our journey towards the digital future we want,” she said.