On Thursday 26 April, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Intellectual Property Day.  The Zimbabwe Institute of Patent and Trademark Agents(currently led by Miss Matanga who is its President) hosted the celebration in conjunction with ARIPO at the ARIPO headquarters in Harare.

This year’s theme was “Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity” with specific focus being on educating proprietors and other stakeholders of the role that intellectual property rights play in inculcating a culture of creativity and innovation., alongside celebrating the game-changing contributions women have made to intellectual property, and how generally women innovators (and anyone else) may seek to protect their innovations.

The event was marked by speeches from the likes of Women in Tech ZW, Engineer Mavis Maunganidze (Powertel), ZIPTA President, our very own Managing Attorney Brenda Matanga, and Hope Masike, a well known local Afro-fusion mbira songstress.

Brenda Matanga spoke on the importance of recognizing that in the present day, there are more and more everyday women who are innovating; be it in fashion, art, literature, science, and technology. As such, there is a need for women to be educated about their intellectual property rights so as to empower them in their work.

Masike’s speech placed emphasis on the importance of the need for men to support women, drawing attention to the fact that women’s issues are societal issues at large.

We will never quite succeed on our own though.  I have seen the great efforts by women’s organizations and it is sad how they are interpreted to be war against men, misinterpreted that women’s empowerment is men’s disempowerment.”

Masike also spoke on the issue of women being sidelined in the music industry, an example being the absence of female performers in the line-up for Thomas Mapfumo’s concert held on Saturday.  Masike then serenaded the crowd with a performance, shortly after her speech.

The event also provided for a question and answer platform for members of the public to pick the minds of intellectual property lawyers that were present.  The question and answer session gave rise to important discussions and exchanges about where we would like the development of our intellectual property law in Zimbabwe to go so as to be more fully capable of protecting innovators, specifically in the software and tech sphere.

Lessons drawn from the celebration are that it is up to all of us today to take the conversation forward and help in creating an IP culture in our country- if Zimbabwe is really open for business, then IP should be a part of that campaign and conversation.  Furthermore, we must celebrate the courage and brilliance of women in the world who are driving change, molding our future and making history through their innovation and creations. It is time for the world to acknowledge the achievements of women in the creative sphere and as such, and support women in their creative endeavors.