Author: Intern - Ishita Goel
The 22nd session of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property, 2018  acknowledged the existence of the gender gap in IP and emphasized the need to create gender equality by empowering women to innovate and create IPs. It aimed to include a gender-specific perspective in IP policies. The author believes that a gender-specific perspective in IP policies is not necessary but agrees with the Committee’s recommendation on the need to empower women to innovate and occupy a bigger share of the workforce in the development of technologies and businesses.
The lack of awareness of the economic and social benefits of owning IP among women, lack of financial resources to pursue education or set up businesses, insufficient support to working women, contribute to the sparse contribution of women in strengthening the IP ecosystem.
The author opines that the government can undertake effective schemes and initiatives to empower women in creating IP. The government actively advertising and promoting initiatives to increase the participation of women in the workforce and sectors of innovation will automatically raise awareness, empower women and reduce the gender gap.
Women from indigenous / tribal communities in some parts of the world have collaborated with their governments to meet the UN sustainable development goals and, in the process, have preserved traditional knowledge. In India, too, women from indigenous / tribal communities can also be encouraged to protect their traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, geographical indications and trade secrets. It would help them not only economically but also socially and strengthen the IP regime.
The author’s opinion on not having gender-specific IP laws but to simply empower women to innovate and participate in the workforce stems from the belief that implementation of laws is a problem area and not the laws themselves. Measures to empower women are the need of the hour. Some measures that can be undertaken are – promote women’s involvement in STEM fields by providing scholarships or crash courses; incorporating initiatives to the existing women empowerment schemes of education; awareness programs and mentorship can be provided by women inventors or other women in the IP field; concessions and benefits similar to those offered to MSMEs in terms of financial assistance and loan moratoriums can be further relaxed for women centric businesses.
It is the author’s opinion that the government can address barriers faced by women by actively providing solutions to implement the laws rather than merely implementing more laws. This will motivate more women to innovate and automatically address gender-gap issues.
 World Intellectual Property Organisation, “Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) 22nd Session”, Pg. 6-7, available at https://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/mdocs/en/cdip_22/cdip_22_summary.pdf.
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