Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Women and IP: Acceralating Innovations and creativity



Every April 26th, the world celebrates the World Intellectual Property Day to learn the crucial role that intellectual property (IP) rights play in encouraging innovation, creativity and economic development.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United

Nations, defines Intellectual Property as ‘legal rights which result from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic Fields’. Broadly speaking, there are two categories of Intellectual Property: Industrial Property and Copyright and Related rights. Industrial Property includes patents for inventions, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications. Copyright covers literary works (such as novels, poems and plays), films, music, artistic works. Intellectual property rights are like any other property right

Intellectual Property rights allow creators, or owners of patents, trademarks or copyrighted works to benefit from their own work or investment in a creation.

Generally speaking, intellectual property law aims at safeguarding creators and other producers of intellectual goods and services by granting them certain time-limited rights to control.

Intellectual property (IP) is a vital part of the global creative and innovative ecosystems, especially for individual creators, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). To raise awareness of IP’s vital role, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) established the first World IP Day on April 26, 2000.

WIPO’s theme for World IP Day 2023 is “Women and IP: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity.”

In celebration of this day, I will highlight some of the success stories about women with a ‘can do attitude’ who rely on IP rights to accelerate innovation and creativity in Zambia.

Bupe Chipili Mulapesi, a Zambian agri entrepreneur is turning her passion for strawberry growing into a thriving business in Zambia.

Having registered her enterprise at Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA), she aims to continue supplying a high-quality strawberry fruit which is affordable and easily accessible to the market, because strawberry fruit which is imported to Zambia comes at a high cost. Her long-term goal is to satisfy both the local and international markets with the best quality of strawberry fruit in terms of taste and a long shelf life.

Gezile Mbewe-Chalwe as president of Inventors and Innovators Association of Zambia (IIZA) organises inventors and innovators to mobilize financial and material resources that will ensure the commercialisation of inventions and innovations. The Inventors and Innovators Association of Zambia (IIZA) has been promoting employment and economic growth for more than a decade by assisting marginalised inventors and innovators to bring them into the mainstream economy. IIZA is recognises that invention and innovation is the basis for economic and social progress in Zambia.

Women are also leading the way in writing uplifting memoirs, novels, guidebooks, journal articles, books and research texts that seek to inspire and empower other women, and men, to fight social injustices and inequalities. One woman who needs little introduction, has gone beyond her role as board chairperson of the Zambia Reprographic Rights Society (ZARSSO) to becoming a role model and iconic figure in her own right. Lucille Mudenda has created a spotlight for men and women writers from diverse communities who felt excluded from mainstream writing and publishing. Ms Mudenda’s long term objective is to bring together authors, creators and publishers of literary and artistic works to address the problem of unauthorised reproduction of their works in Zambia. For generations, women in Zambia have shaped our country with their ingenuity and creativity. Women like Bupe,Gezile and Mudenda are driving scientific breakthroughs, setting new creative trends, building businesses and transforming our world.

Despite the steady progress and positive impact women are making in the intellectual property value chain, some challenges still remain. Some of the challenges women face in their innovation and invention journey, include:

Lack of access to resources, including financial and knowledge resources;
Under-representation of women in STEM fields, as well as other IP-related fields, that limit exposure to role models;
Lack of understanding of the value of IP rights;
Discrimination, bias, sexism, socio-cultural norms and expectations
As part of its commitment to mitigate these challenges, support and propel women entrepreneurs and changemakers, the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) has reduced registration fees for selected services. This year’s World IP day is particularly memorable because PACRA will be offering protection and registration tips to women entrepreneurs and the general public on registrations for companies, movable property, trademarks, patents and industrial designs.

As a way of commemorating this year’s World IP day, the Patents and Companies Registration Agency will be joined by other stakeholders in a match past from Lusaka Civic Centre along independence avenue to Lusaka Museum at Lusaka Government Complex. Events at Lusaka museum will be graced by the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Chipoka Mulenga.

The author is an intellectual property specialist


  1. What are some of Zambia’s accomplishments that lie inside the IP umbrella for protection? The commemoration must give us a list of past achivers tomorrow, enroute from the Civic Centre to Archives Centre. By the way, have you applied yourself to the piracy of Broken Hill man? We have failed to safeguard that skull, our most prized IP, meant for that museum.

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