Encouraging Women’s Innovation in the Arab Countries

May 22, 2018

Heads of intellectual property (IP) offices in the Arab countries called for enhancing cooperation with WIPO on promoting women’s innovation and creativity.

In the first-ever discussion on the topic in the Regional Coordination Meeting for the Heads of IP Offices which took place from April 10 to 12, 2018, all participating heads called for further deepening of Arab cooperation with WIPO in promoting women’s innovation and creativity.

Photo: Participants discuss in groups
Participants discuss in groups existing good practices and the way forward in promoting women’s innovation and creativity in the Arab countries (Photo: WIPO)

The Meeting was organized by WIPO and the League of Arab States (LAS) in cooperation with the Egyptian Patent Office (EgPO), and the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology of Egypt (ASRT).

Mr. Mario Matus, WIPO’s Deputy Director General of the Development Sector, and Dr. Maha Bakhiet Zaki, Director of the Intellectual Property and Competitiveness Department at the League of Arab States, gave opening statements to the session entitled “Encouraging Innovation and Creativity of Women in the Arab Region”. 

They both explained the imperatives in supporting the innovation and creativity of women and shared examples of progress and initiatives from around the world, as well as in the Arab countries.

Active patenting by women

WIPO’s Gender and Diversity Specialist, Ms. Kaori Saito, gave an overview of WIPO’s initiatives in the area, including the latest data on the share of patent applications filed via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) with at least one woman inventor in the Arab countries. She highlighted that women participate actively in patenting in several Arab countries.  

In the United Arab Emirates and Morocco, for example, the percentage of PCT applications with women inventors stood at 29.1% and 27.3% respectively –higher than in the majority of the top 20 countries submitting PCT applications. 

Share of PCT applications with woman inventors in countries in the Arab region with more than 100 applications filed between 2011 and 2016

Origin Share
United Arab Emirates 29.1%
Morocco 27.3%
Saudi Arabia 17.3%
Qatar 15.8%
Egypt 10.7%

Share of PCT applications with women inventors for the top 20 countries submitting PCT applications, 2016


Chart showing Share of PCT applications with women inventors for the top 20 origins, 2016

Women inventors were represented in notably high shares of PCT applications in the Republic of Korea and China.

The high percentages of applications with women inventors in the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Saudi Arabia may partly be explained by the high percentage of PCT applications submitted by universities in these countries.  Universities and public research organizations (PRO) tend to have a high share of PCT applications with women inventors as compared to businesses, according to the WIPO study “Identifying the gender of PCT inventors”.

Distribution of PCT applications by applicant type, 2011-16

Chart showing distribution of PCT applications by applicant type, 2011-16

The way forward

Participants called for further cooperation with WIPO, recognizing the important and vital role of women inventors and creators for further developing the national economies, in the summary agreements from the session.  They also praised WIPO for its efforts of encouraging women inventors and creators, in particular, through dedicating the theme of the 2018 World IP Day to Empowering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity.  Participants also recalled with appreciation WIPO/LAS cooperation to support women in innovation in 2017. 

It was clear from the lively discussions during the session that, while the Arab countries already have a number of good practices in place to promote women’s innovation and creativity, much more needs to be done. WIPO is committed to continue working with its member states in this important area.