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Common agenda enabling women’s wider participation in IP system in Asia , adopted

WIPO, IPOPHL, and IP Australia identified common hurdles, agree action plan for women researchers in developing Asean nations  

 

Women in the field of scientific research across Asean developing countries, in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), IP Australia, and the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) approved a unified agenda on October 26 identifying  challenges faced, and the way forward for wider use of the IP system by women.

This slate of commitments were arrived at, at the close of the three-day Regional Meeting on Women and IP Commercialisation in Asia forum, organized by the IPOPHL, under the WIPO/FIT Australia program. The broad aim of the program is to narrow, if not close, the gender gap in the use of IP.

Local women researchers joined their counterparts from Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka in sharing their experiences in accessing the IP system in their respective countries, and the gaps faced in the journey from securing IP protection to commercialising it.

Case studies on the Philippines and Sri Lanka were presented by Dr. Victorina H. Zosa of Lyceum University and Dr. Kanchana Kariyawasam of Griffith University, respectively, both highlighting a case of gender disparity in the use of the IP system.

Researchers from the other developing nations individually presented the economic and socio-cultural situations in their country, to underline the challenges they face as women researchers in managing their IP.

The presentations, shared experiences, and the case studies were distilled into a unified list of general findings behind women’s under-representation in intellectual property use and commercialisation:

  • Gender disparity starts with university admissions to engineering and technology degrees;

  • Gender disparity in senior management positions;  

  • Women are mostly teaching oriented academics with less focus on commercialisation of the research output;

  • Fewer female scientists in certain areas important for innovation promotion such as engineering (civil, mechanical, electrical);

  • Lack of successful female inventors as role models;

  • Lack of women networks and mentoring systems in academic world and business;

  • Lack of IP awareness and education;

    • Curriculum (formal, informal, and non-formal) available in all levels of education

  • Lack of IP women specialists;

  • Cultural and social barriers – deep in tradition but also in modern life;

  • Measures of support  limited in time and comprehensive approach – from education to access to high level jobs;

  • Establishment of women professional associations; and,

  • Limited access to financing.

 

Ms. Olga Spasic, WIPO Counsellor at the SMEs and Entrepreneur Support Division spearheaded the finalisation of the approved findings, and proposed a follow-up plan, consisting of commissioning more case studies, this time for the case of Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Other measures for the action plan include:

 

  • Holding the regional meetings on an annual basis for sharing best practices and adopting recommendations for governments;

  • Exhibition of women inventions and innovations, back-to-back with the annual meetings; and,

  • In the ASEAN region, a regular evaluation and publication of comparative data on the developed studies.

 

Local and Asean stakeholders, together with WIPO and IP Australia agreed to implement the creation of a Women IP Professional Association in the ASEAN region ( consisting of academe, business, and inventors groups) as a long-term objective.

 

The three-day workshop forum gathered as much as 55 women researchers and inventors from all over Asean, as well as local members of the academe coming from IPOPHL’s Innovation and Technology Support Offices (ITSOs), and from the Filipino Women Inventors and Innovators Inc.

Harnessing innovation particularly from women, a sector still impeded from fully participating in the IP system, is a priority of the IPOPHL, considering this gender group’s ability to contribute to economic growth.

To recall, IPOPHL Director General Josephine R. Santiago held an inaugural meeting in October with women inventors and innovators, to kickstart this women empowerment movement in IP.