8 March 2023
The EPO joins intellectual property offices, companies and individuals worldwide today in commemorating International Women's Day (IWD). The event has grown to become a global celebration of women's social, economic, cultural, scientific and political achievements, and also provides an opportunity to discuss topical issues. This year's theme, DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality, explores the impact of a widening digital gender gap and recognises the women and girls driving change in technology and digital education.
In a joint statement, the EPO, the USPTO and 36 IP organisations addressed the underrepresentation of women and emphasised the need for change: "Women's entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity foster technological advancement, enrich culture, and contribute to economic growth. Their contributions and participation in decision-making processes are crucial for the development of inclusive policies, spaces and digital tools necessary to increase the awareness of women and girls of their rights and to support more robust and diverse civic engagement."
As part of its celebrations, the EPO joined the USPTO symposium on women in intellectual property (IP). The three-day hybrid event from 7 to 9 March features several panels, workshops and mentoring sessions. Nellie Simon, EPO Vice-President Corporate Services, delivered an address yesterday in which she spoke on the importance of an equitable society, noting that, "Gender equality is the engine of our evolving economy that will fuel sustainable, inclusive growth."
Roberta Romano-Götsch, EPO Chief Sustainability Officer, will participate tomorrow in several sessions, contributing towards exchanges on diversity and inclusion at the EPO, women in IP and mentoring. EPO Chief Economist Yann Ménière completes the trio of EPO speakers at the symposium. During his presentation, Ménière will discuss the results of the EPO report Women's participation in inventive activity. While the women inventor rate in Europe is rising (up from 2% in the late 1970s to 13.2% in 2019), the report notes that a considerable gender gap remains.
With roots in the women's suffrage movement, IWD has been commemorated in various forms and countries for well over a century. The first European observance took place in 1911 and soon drew supporters in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. In 1975, the UN began celebrating IWD and two years later invited member states to proclaim the day as an official UN holiday.