Today is World Intellectual Property Day which aims to increase people’s awareness and understanding of intellectual property (IP).Below are messages delivered by Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce & Small Business Development Donville Inniss and Director General of the World Intellectual Property Office Francis Curry.
The Government of Barbados through the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office joins the world today, April 26 to celebrate World Intellectual Property Day under the theme Powering Change, Women in Innovation and Creativity.
This year’s theme celebrating World Intellectual Property Day is an opportunity to highlight how the Intellectual Property (IP) system can support innovative and creative endeavours of women (and indeed everyone) in their quest to bring their amazing ideas to market. Intellectual Property is protected by the laws of Barbados and these laws allow persons to gain recognition and benefit financially from what they create or invent. The regulatory framework of Intellectual Property provides an environment in which innovation can thrive by protecting the interests of both the innovator and the general public.
Our focus on this theme also provides an opportunity for us to reflect [on] the achievements of women, celebrate their work and ingenuity, and encourage our females of all ages – young, not so young and young at heart – to explore the frontiers of knowledge and creativity. Internationally, regionally and locally, women have been powering change and innovation in all spheres, creating game-changing inventions and developing life-enhancing creations. These are ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in shaping the history of our societies. This creativity and innovation serve to transform and improve our lives through the arts, sciences and technology.
In Barbados, we have long recognised that powering change for women becomes powering change for society. Our society has been built along matriarchal lines where the female in most cases is the head of the household. These women are creative and innovative, not by choice but out of necessity. They are able to find effective solutions to continue to build and grow our society. Indeed, one may say that Barbadian women, therefore, have innovation and creativity built into their DNA. Additionally, encouraging women to be creative and innovative is not only an ethical issue but also filters across to the economic spectrum, thereby making empowerment for women an economic benefit for the society as a whole. With this empowerment, the spotlight falls on women as meaningful contributors to the social and economic development of Barbados.
When we examine the role of women in modern society, we find that over the years, there have been great strides in closing the gender gap. In education, there has been a significant increase in the number of women entering and completing their education at the primary, secondary and tertiary level. In the Caribbean region, we find that more women are pursuing studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the higher educational level. Businesses have also recognised that a diverse workforce adds value and contributes to its overall growth and success.
In the creative arena, whether it is in music, film, fashion, art, literature or dance, women are re-shaping our culture and pushing the limits of creative expression and artistry, and ultimately bringing new perspectives and understanding of our society. From the science and technological perspective, women are pushing the boundaries of techniques and creating new, efficient and effective methods. From our own international superstar Rihanna, to Velma Scantlebury, the first black female transplant surgeon in the United States, our women are making their mark locally, regionally and internationally. They have become incredible role models not only for our country’s women and girls but also [for] our men and boys, and serve as an inspiration across countries, regions and generations as they engender a spirit of confidence, energy, determination and success.
However, the quest for parity must continue. There is still much to be done at the national level to put innovation and creativity at the forefront of our diverse endeavours. We, therefore, need to promote greater levels of creativity and innovation in our people through viable strategic plans and programmes which will boost economic growth, promote diversity and ultimately reduce economic inequality.
The government will continue to play its role in facilitating and creating the environment in which creativity and innovation can thrive. I therefore urge all of our partners and stakeholders to continue to play their part in building a sustainable base for women in innovation and creativity. Targeted training in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for girls and young women, as well as training camps and competitions are all important initiatives, as we seek to foster an environment to create a new generation of scientists and engineers in which innovation can grow and creativity can flourish.
The important and inspiring contributions of countless women around the globe are powering change in our world. Their “can do” attitude is an inspiration to us all. And their remarkable achievements are an invaluable legacy for young girls today with aspirations to become the inventors and creators of tomorrow.
The time is ripe to reflect on ways to ensure that increasing numbers of women and girls across the globe engage in innovation and creativity. It is heartening that more women are taking up leadership roles and making their voices heard in the field of science, technology, business and the arts. And with this momentum, women and men working together in pushing innovation and creativity, we can improve our ability to enrich our shared cultural wealth and develop effective solutions to alleviate our challenges and create opportunities for future growth and prosperity.
In closing, we as a nation salute our women for their contribution to innovation and creativity, whatever their chosen field of endeavour. Indeed, we extend our encouragement to those who even now are on the cusp of taking their first step, that decision, that commitment to make a difference in our nation and indeed the world in driving change through innovation and creativity in this our technologically driven age.
Message from Director General Francis Gurry
This year our World Intellectual Property Day theme is Powering change: Women in innovation and creativity.
This is an exceptionally important issue. That is why today we are celebrating the talents and accomplishments of women inventors and creators around the globe.
But we have work to do. Available statistics indicate that the level of participation by women in innovation and creativity is below par. This is unfair to women and a loss for our world, which needs a full team working on our most-pressing common challenges.
On the occasion of World Intellectual Property Day, I call on everyone, everywhere, to ensure that we each do everything in our power to increase the full participation of women in innovation and creativity.
In the case of innovation, if we take the use of WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) as an example, in 1995, only 17 percent of international patent applications filed under that system included a woman among the inventors listed.
The good news is that this number is rising and now nearly one-third of all international patent applications contain at least one woman inventor. But that figure is still well below the parity we all seek.
Intellectual property exists to encourage innovation and creativity, which stimulate improvements in our quality of life, spur economic growth and address the radical challenges we confront such as climate change, clean energy, food security and health.
To address these challenges, we need the benefit of all of humanity’s resources. A deficit in the participation of women means that the current levels of innovation and creativity are suboptimal, and we are simply not reaping the full benefits that flow from innovation and creativity. At present, humanity is not realizing its full innovative and creative potential.
That is why on the occasion of World Intellectual Property Day, I call on everyone, everywhere, to ensure that we each do everything in our power to increase the full participation of women in innovation and creativity.
This will lead to much greater opportunity and fairness for women and enormous benefits for the world.
I wish you all a very happy, fruitful and innovative World Intellectual Property Day.