Gender Inclusivity as a Strategy to Drive Innovation and Creativity in Nigeria.   

In UNFPA we truly believe that women and girls should also be in the driver’s seat for innovation. If you empower them by securing their access to health, participation, education, technology and science, you will be able to unleash their potential for creativity and tap into an unending source of economic and social benefits that will fulfill the 2030 Agenda and leave no one behind. Monica Ferro Director of the UNFPA Geneva Office[1]

 

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Gender gap according to International Labour Organization, remain the most pressing labor market challenges in our global economy[2]. According to the United Nations data, women make up half of the world’s population yet, 37% of women do not have access to the internet[3].

In developing countries, women are scarcely at the forefront of innovation and creativity due to the constant gender-exclusive perspective that society has enabled.

According to a report by the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, measures have been taken by numerous international bodies (such as the Association for Women’s Rights in Development) to address women’s under-representation in both science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and career and technical education (CTE), however, baseline vulnerabilities such as lack of access to research resources, sex discrimination in promotion and compensation, etc. reduce the participation of women and girls in STEM and CET and dissuade them from participating in innovation and creativity[4].

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Progressively, a formidable IP system has the propensity of spurring greater participation of women in the creative and innovative sector of most countries, including Nigeria, which has been operating in such a way that it has taken steps to accept varieties of creative and innovative results.

Regardless, a view that creativity by women and communal groups should be exempted because they lack economic value and tend to be inferior still runs the operation of some sectors[5].

However, Women all over the world tend to underuse the IP System, and there is a paucity of knowledge on the procedures required to use the IP System. In light of this, international bodies, including the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are taking steps to reflect on the challenges women face in accessing the knowledge, skills, resources, and support needed to thrive and celebrate the ‘can-do’ attitude of women inventors, creators and entrepreneurs around the world and their groundbreaking work[6].

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This essay explores the dearth of femininity in Intellectual Property; particularly, it provides strategies to help improve female participation in invention and creation and espouses how this inclusivity can benefit Nigeria from an IP perspective.

2.0 Definition of Terms

According to WIPO, innovation means doing something new that improves a product, process, or service[7]. On the other hand, creativity means using imagination or original ideas to create something.

The various intellectual property rights seek to protect these innovations. A good example of innovation is inventions that are practically protected by patents. One of the key things that patents do is that it transforms inventions into commercially tradable assets.

Creativity could come in the form of business ideas or any aspect of literature and entertainment. Typically, Intellectual Property (IP) rights are there to ensure that these creations and inventions are sufficiently protected.

 

3.0 Spurring Innovations and Creation in Nigeria: Gender Inclusivity and a Formidable  IP System:

If women are prevented from utilizing their potential as entrepreneurs, creators, and innovators there is a likelihood of a reduction in the economic growth of Nigeria.

Successively, innovation, creativity, and inventions play a key role in promoting business interest, and entrepreneurship, therefore it is not just necessary but rather crucial to protect intellectual property rights.

However, persons like Nastaran Khanzade (a professional Industrial and interior designer) have been able to earn income by designing, producing, and selling new products along with its production line to other manufacturers, her designs are registered with the Iran State Organization for Registration of Deeds and Properties, which offers her protection and capacity to continue expanding her brand.

In Nigeria, various private sectors have grown in the aspect of creativity and innovation. Supporting creativity and innovation brings about growth to the economy.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited, in 2016, the Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation Sector contributed 2.3% (N239 billion) to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)[8].

Nonetheless, the IP System should foster women innovators and creators to create a balance in a world where creativity and innovation thrive. Nigeria can improve in this aspect by creating a platform and opportunities for individuals with viable ideas to create a profitable niche.

Furthermore, the participation of women in innovative and creative ideas is not new but as one moves up the ladder of power, there is a reduction in the number of women that assume leadership positions.

Undoubtedly there is a need to support women’s leadership in creative and inventive spaces by recognizing the efforts of women in these spaces.

According to the 2018 IESE Women in Leadership (I-WIL) index, countries like Sweden and Iceland get top marks for female leadership and prioritize equal opportunities for women[9].

On March 8, 2018, the International Trademark Association launched “The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative” in a bid to acknowledge the important role of women in the IP field as well as provide sustained programs to help women in the Association’s community advance their careers and achieve professional success.

The Nigerian government can provide research and development grants for ‘ground-breaking’ inventions by women in Nigeria. Grants for inventions cover the costs of research, and development, and aid in bringing new ideas to the market.

In a situation where women have the necessary funds and comparative advantage, it becomes easier to maximize their potential as innovators and creators in modern society.

To spur further creativity using this strategy, the requisite IP protection of brands can be made a prerequisite to such a grant. An approach by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to promote women and girls’ economic rights and opportunities, including investing in women’s entrepreneurship is a good example.

Inclusion of traditional cultural expressions like folktales, songs, dances, traditional ceremonies, sacred norms, etc. which forms part of the identity of indigenous community can be a form of encouraging gender inclusivity.

The Nigerian government can protect these traditional cultural expressions by authorizing a copyright protection to ensure that random people do not misuse the purpose of the cultural expression or to ensure that the people it originated from are duly compensated.

Section 31 of the Nigerian Copyright Act 2023 provides that traditional cultural expressions are captured as expressions of folklore but Section 31(5) of the Nigerian Copyright Act  of 2023 vests the right to authorize use not in the communities that own them but rather, in the Nigerian Copyright Commission.

Also, there is a need to acknowledge women’s contribution to the invention of practical arts and crafts such as Crocheting, textiles, making of fine tapestries etc., and adopt measures to harness them by ensuring that they are duly protected under copyright, industrial designs and trademarks.

When this is done, these women can invest in branding their products for their enterprise. This will invariably increase the interest and participation of women in the Innovative and creativity sector. Nigeria as a whole will experience a boost in its economy.

According to the 2016 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Survey of Gender Budgeting Practices, more than half of the OECD countries have introduced gender budgeting (gender budgeting simply entails using the tools, and techniques of the budget cycle in a systematic way to promote equality.)[10]

Nigeria has taken a step to include gender budgeting as part of their programming support to the government. The fiscal responsibility legislation of Nigeria contains strategies for mainstreaming gender into all sections of the budget[11].

Generally, modern standards of public financial management can be applied if a gender perspective is integrated. Undoubtedly, gender disparity is one key issue in the aspect of economic and political activities.

Regardless, each country is at its own stage of economic and political growth, as such they have to move at a pace that fosters development. Gender budgeting seeks to incorporate women’s needs into fiscal policies and promote government accountability thereby birthing a redistributive fiscal policy.

Also, the fundamental principle of the European Union is gender equality, thus advancing inclusivity requires gender analysis and this is one of the policies of gender budgeting. Implementation of gender budgeting in Nigeria will enhance accountability and in the long run there will be a lower gender gap and female innovators will be duly represented.

 

4.0 CONCLUSION

It cannot be over emphasized that there is a need to end all forms of gender disparity in Nigeria. To achieve a balanced representation of women, organizations are to consistently articulate practicable policies so that women can play a key role in the economic, political and social areas, for the country to achieve female participation in invention and creation and this inclusivity can thus benefit Nigeria from the IP perspective. Consequential will give room for economic development, responsive government, healthier children and job creation.

 

About the Author:

Ogenyi Akunna Maryjane is a prolific writer with many articles to her credit. She’s currently a 400L student in the Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria Nsukka (Enugu Campus).

 

REFERENCE

[1]Monica Ferro “Reflections on Why it is Important to Encourage Women to Engage in Innovation and Creativity” (March 2020) <https://www.wipo.int/ip-outreach/en/ipday/2018/women_innovation_creativity.html> Accessed March 2023

[2]  International Labour Office “World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends for Women” (ILO 2017) <https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—inst/documents/publication/wcms_557245.pdf> Accessed March 2023

[3]  United Nations “Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality” (8th March 2023) <https://www.un.org/en/observances/womens-day Accessed March 2023

[4]  National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education “Title IX AT 50; A Report by the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education” (June 2022) <https://nwlc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/NCWGE-Title-IX-At-50-6.2.22-vF.pdf Accessed March 2023

[5] Senator Iyere Ihenyen’s “The Masculinity of Intellectual Property, Femininity, and the Malnourished Baby” (April 26th, 2018) <https://infusionlawyers.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/The-Masculinity-of-Intellectual-Property-Femininity-and-the-Malnourished-Baby-Sentor-Ihenyen.pdf> Accessed March 2023

[6] National Intellectual Property Management Office “World IP Day 26 April 2023: Gender Inclusivity as a Strategy to Drive Innovation and Creativity” (NIPMO 2023)

[7] WIPO “World IP Day: Innovation and Intellectual Property” (April 26th, 2018)

[8]  D. Oturu, I. Ekenimoh and R. Irenen “Intellectual Property – Protecting & Promoting Creativity and Innovation for a viable Future” (2nd May 2022) https://www.mondaq.com/nigeria/copyright/1188724/intellectual-property—protecting–promoting-creativity-and-innovation-for-a-viable-future  Accessed March 2023

[9] IESE INSIGHT “The Best Places to Be a Woman: Countries that Prioritize Female Leadership” (May 8 2018) https://www.iese.edu/insight/articles/women-leadership-index-countries/

[10] Ronnie Downes, Lisa von Trapp and Scherie Nicol “Gender Budgeting in OECD countries” (2017) < https://www.oecd.org/gender/Gender-Budgeting-in-OECD-countries.pdf>

[11] Women Watch “Information and Resources on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women” (2012) < https://www.un.org/womenwatch/feature/ruralwomen/undp-comparative-advantage.html Accessed March 2023

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