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Closing the Gender Gap in IP: Women and Tourism

November 21, 2022

A virtual sharing session on Women, Intellectual Property (IP) and Tourism took place on November 15, 2022.  It is part of the series of sessions aiming to close the gender gap in IP, organized following a decision by the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP).  The event was moderated by Her Excellency LE Thi Tuyet Mai, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva.

The session was opened by Mr. Irfan BALOCH, Director, Development Agenda Coordination Division of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), who underlined the currency of the topic in the aftermath of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  He also highlighted the immense impact of the tourism sector on the livelihoods of women, as the majority of the tourism workforce worldwide is female.  WIPO is contributing to closing the gender gap in IP in the tourism sector, collaborating with likeminded organizations, including with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Ambassador LE Thi Tuyet Mai reiterated the considerable contribution of women to the tourism sector and emphasized the need to disseminate practical experiences widely in order to help to inspire more women to discover the value of IP rights in the sector.

The session featured women experts and entrepreneurs from Armenia, Egypt, Grenada and Portugal, who shared diverse and inspirational experiences in the tourism sector, highlighting what the role of IP was along the way. 

Panelists included:

Ms. May M Hassan

Ms. May M Hassan, Founder of IPMentor Initiative, IP Attorney and Field Researcher, IP Trainer and founding member of the National IP Academy of Egypt, and author of the study on “Intellectual Property, Tourism and Culture: Supporting Development Objectives and Promoting Cultural Heritage in Egypt”, Egypt


Ms. Mary Badalyan

Ms. Mary Badalyan, Co-Founder and a Chief Executive Officer of EventToura, Armenia


Ms. Apolónia Rodrigues

Ms. Apolónia Rodrigues, President of the Dark Sky Association, and President of the Rede de Turismo de Aldeia do Alentejo, Portugal


Dr. Valma Jessamy

Dr. Valma Jessamy, Owner and Resident Scientist of Jessamine Eden Wellness Farm, as well as a Chief Executive Officer and Principal Research Scientist of 17th/21st Century Cures Ltd., Grenada

Through practical examples from local handicraft production and wine tourism through to astrotourism and agritourism, the panelists highlighted how trademarks, industrial designs and copyrights can be used to support the growth of tourism-related businesses and to encourage women’s participation in and contribution to the sector.  In particular, the presentation of the panelists focused on:

  • successful stories of women using trademarks and industrial designs to promote their tourism-related businesses in Egypt, identified during the field study in the framework of the WIPO Development Agenda project on “Intellectual Property, Tourism and Culture”. Also, presentation of the IPMentor initiative, which aims to empower women and youth to connect IP with their creativity and inventiveness (slides).
  • the brand of the “Yerevan Wine Days” festival and how registration of its trademark and licensed merchandise bearing the well-known trademark contributed to its success (slides).
  • Dark Sky Alqueva: the First Starlight Tourism Destination in the World and the role of IP in creating its strong and competitive brand (slides).
  • Jessamine Eden Wellness Farms: an agritourism venture built around an award winning and trademarked medical honey (slides).

Presentations of the panelists were followed by a lively Q&A session, addressing questions from the audience.  The event was concluded by closing remarks delivered by Mr. Benjamin OWEN, Senior Project Specialist, Ethics, Culture and Social Responsibility Department, UNWTO.  Mr. OWEN reiterated the timeliness of the topic and stated that as the sector rebounds after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to reflect on its future direction to rebuild it in a more sustainable and inclusive manner.  He also highlighted the role of IP rights in adding value to tourism-related products and services owned by women.  Mr. OWEN further stated UNWTO’s readiness to continue collaboration with WIPO in this domain.

The full session is available via Webcasting.  The series will continue in 2023.  Stay tuned!

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