The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2000 declared April 26 every year as the World Intellectual Property Day to raise awareness about intellectual property (IP) and promote its use as a tool for growing innovation and creativity.
The theme for this year’s celebration, “Women and IP: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity”, draws attention to the role that women play in innovation and creativity, their achievements, the challenges they face and how society can harness their talents to accelerate growth. Nigeria has its own array of women innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs in diverse fields who are making remarkable impact in society. We celebrate them.
Women make up almost half of the human population and although they have contributed immensely to scientific breakthroughs, new creative trends, businesses and the transformation of our world, they still face the challenges of stereotypes and other biases that hinder their effective use of the IP system. We therefore acknowledge the need to encourage more women to use IP to enhance, promote and protect their works. By providing the enabling environment for them to flourish, society benefits as they are encouraged to innovate and create more.
In line with this year’s theme and in order to institutionalise and find an enduring national response to upscale the IP knowledge of women, the Nigerian Copyright Commission is today launching the Women Empowering Women in Intellectual Property (We Win IP) campaign. The initiative is to carefully nurture more women IP experts who will in turn empower other women through training, capacity building, mentoring and other informal knowledge transfer protocols. According to the slogan for the WeWin IP campaign: Together, we win! We will encourage women to stand with other women so that working together, we can win on all fronts through the better use of the IP system.
I am pleased to note that under the We Win IP project, the Commission has already trained twenty-six (26) women business owners/CEOs, on the rudiments of copyright and the opportunities available to them in the digital environment. Also, over fifty (50) women have been encouraged to undertake the WIPO Distance Learning (DL) General Course on Intellectual Property, while about One hundred and twenty (120) young lawyers are being mentored in the use of IP. In the coming weeks, the Commission will be recognizing some successful women as IP champions, experts and mentors to empower young and upcoming female entrepreneurs and SMEs in the use of the IP system.
We will be training more clusters of women SMEs, creators and innovators across the country to build capacity, skills and knowledge. Already, with the support of WIPO, a pilot project for SMEs has commenced in the fashion, raffia and leather craft industries to enhance their trade and contribution to national development.
As we celebrate this year’s World IP Day, I specially commend all Nigerian creatives, past and present and reaffirm that their labours shall never be in vain. The recent winning of the Grammy award by our own Temilade Openiyi (Tems) has again shown that this generation of Nigerian women creatives will break more ceilings if only we give them the enabling environment to pursue their passions in the different genres of creativity. On its part, the Commission will continue to strengthen the copyright system and make it more efficient and fit for purpose to support the realization of their creative goals.
Long before the World IP Day was launched in 2000, Nigeria, in 1995, had designated September 14 (the day Nigeria joined the Berne Convention) as the country’s National Creativity Day. The Commission will work with other relevant stakeholders, Ministries, Departments and Agencies to resuscitate the celebration of that Day and give recognition to the best of our creative talents to raise awareness about the importance of copyright and creativity.
Once again, we salute the “can do” spirit of our women creatives and renew our commitment to ensuring that everyone in the creative industries enjoy the full benefits of the new Copyright regime in Nigeria.
Congratulations, as we wish you happy celebrations. Together, we win!
Dr. John O. Asein