WIPR Influential Women in IP 2020
As the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing diversity and achieving
gender equality is even more important, says Francis Gurry, director general of the
World Intellectual Property Organization.
t is my great pleasure to contribute a
few words of introduction to World
Intellectual Property Review’s “Influential
Women in IP” publication.
IP exists to encourage innovation and creativity,
which stimulate improvements in our quality of life
and provide opportunities to confront and overcome
systemic challenges. Without gender equality, however,
humanity is sadly missing out on realising its full
innovative and creative potential.
With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic,
increasing diversity and achieving gender equality is
even more important: humankind needs all hands
on deck in the fight against this pathogen. New
treatments, therapeutics and, hopefully, a vaccine are
anxiously awaited by the global public.
It is estimated that, globally, women make up
approximately two-thirds of all the essential health
and care workers who are risking their lives to fight this
pandemic, but they are still severely underrepresented
in the science, technology, engineering and math
(STEM) fields that fuel medical research.
This underrepresentation is confirmed by new
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
figures on applications filed under the Patent
Cooperation Treaty (PCT). In 1995, women represented
only 9.5% of the 82,000 inventors listed in PCT
applications published by WIPO. By 2019, that figure
had risen to almost 19% of 656,000 PCT-listed inventors.
Anything in our PCT filings that shows less than 50
percent participation by women points to potentially
needs all hands
on deck in the
fight against this
missed innovation opportunities, which is particularly
worrisome now when the need for innovation is
so acute, although a growing presence of women
inventors in the life sciences is encouraging.
While numbers are moving in the right direction,
the rate of progress has stagnated for most of the
previous decade and, as of today, parity among PCTlisted
inventors will be reached only in 2044—24 years
I am also concerned by the fact that the economic
crisis may impose new additional barriers on women
inventors, further reducing the pace of change. While
ensuring that the current gains are maintained, we
must speed up progress towards the day when we may
all benefit from the entirety of human ingenuity.
This year, International Women’s Day on March 8
took on a particular significance as it coincided with
the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration, the
roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls
adopted by United Nations member states in 1995. So
2020 represents a key opportunity to reflect on gaps and
gains over the past 25 years, while turning towards the
future with renewed commitment and determination.
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number
five—gender equality—is a key, cross-cutting target and
a precondition for sustainable progress toward the
goals to be achieved by 2030. WIPO is pleased to be
leading the drive to boost innovation among women
and girls across the globe for a worldwide benefit and
the success of the SDGs.
Please join us in this important effort, while
celebrating the model Women in IP we see featured in
this publication. l
need for equality
SHUTTERSTOCK / NADIA GRAPES