Nº 6 2013 > Obituaries
Tribute to Kathleen G. Heceta
Second woman to chair the ITU Council
Kathleen G. Heceta, former Deputy Commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission of the Philippines, passed away on 15 July 2013.
Ms Heceta, an attorney, was the second woman to chair the ITU Council in 2000. Under her chairmanship, the Council in July 2000 discussed the status of the Union?s reform process and encouraged Member States and Sector Members to contribute to the debate. The Council also decided to prepare for a World Summit on the Information Society, to be held under ITU's leadership in close cooperation with interested United Nations agencies. Strategic partnerships with public and private entities were also envisaged. In addition, the Council decided that the third World Telecommunication Policy Forum would be convened in March 2001 in order to enable stakeholders to exchange views on Internet protocol telephony.
The results of Council 2000 reflected inclusiveness, a theme close to Ms Heceta’s heart. Her concern with inclusiveness also prompted her advocacy for gender equity. Ms Heceta, who took over the Council chairmanship from Lyndall Shope-Mafole, then Plenipotentiary Minister of Communications at the Embassy of South Africa in Paris, said that ”the election of two women in a row — one at the end of the 20th century and now as we start the 21st century — presents a firm conviction in support of gender equality”. Ms Heceta saw the vote of confidence given to women at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference held in Minneapolis in 1998 as an inspiration to many qualified women seeking gender equality. In her view, the world should recognize that society as a whole would benefit from equal participation of women and men in policy and decision-making.
When the "troika" of the Council was established in 2001, Ms Heceta became its first woman member. Troika (meaning a group of three) consists of the past, current and future chairmen of the Council. These three members provide for a smoother transition and continuity in chairing Council sessions, and work largely by electronic means.
Ms Heceta held a clear vision of ITU's image in the context of the global information economy. "The Union's credibility and relevance to its membership, especially in the policy domain, will be vital in establishing an acceptable global framework and a universal mechanism for moral, if not legal, enforcement of standards and access in the borderless world of telecommunications," she said.