Sierra Leone’s Administrator and Registrar General Saptieu Elizabeth Saccoh has called for more women’s participation in intellectual property. She made the call during World Intellectual Property Day celebrations with the theme IP and Women Accelerating Innovation and Creativity. The event is observed annually to raise awareness of the importance of inventions, creative content, copyrights, brands, and patents to the survival and progress of humanity and society.
The program, which took place at the Foreign Affairs Academy, Tower Hill in Freetown attracted government ministers, university Vice Chancellors, lawyers, innovators, the security sector, and engineering students.
Lawyer Saccoh explained that the progress and well-being of humanity rest on the capacity to invent new things and expressed appreciation to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) for supporting member states. She noted that IP is a catalyst for economic growth and job creation and encouraged women to work towards gender parity in the area of IP. She however expressed concern over the low level of women’s participation in this field, noting women should harness their ingenuity and creativity.
Madam Saccoh said women are working hard to shape the world through their imaginations, but face challenges including lack of access to funds and marginalization. She explained that her office has done a lot in the development of IP in Sierra Leone including the drafting of Regulations that are currently with the Attorney General’s Office to be tabled before parliament. The Administrator and Registrar General thanked President Bio for the confidence reposed in her to head the intellectual property office in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Switzerland Lans Gberie revealed that WIPO is working closely with the IP office in Sierra Leone and emphasized the need for transforming lives through innovation. The ambassador observed that women’s marginalization is causing so much loss to the world and stressed the need for collective efforts. He commended the government’s efforts in championing women’s development and encouraged the audience to work towards developing traditional ideas.
In his statement, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohamed Lamin Tarawally said the purpose of Intellectual Property rights is to help innovators gain economic returns of their ideas, stressing that everyone can use IP rights to protect a brand and creativity. He maintained that there are signs of progress as demonstrated by the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General.
The Attorney General called for the right mindset toward women for a better future. He added that innovation is good for developing countries like Sierra Leone and appealed for more women’s participation.
Sierra Leone’s Chief Justice, Babatunde Edwards spoke about the role of the judiciary and the legal framework surrounding IP. He described the theme as appropriate as Sierra Leone has recently passed key gender empowerment laws. He called for women to do more to enhance progress in and out of the country. The Chief Justice pointed out that many women’s works have not been largely recognized, but called on them not to shy away from their potential. He pledged the judiciary’s support to the protection of copyrights and called for more public awareness raising on rights associated with IP.
Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister, Madam Memunatu Pratt in her keynote address praised the Administrator and Registrar General for her relentless efforts in bringing IP to the limelight in Sierra Leone, noting that this was the first time that such a day was being observed in the country. She called for more collaboration with institutions working on innovations for national development.
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mamadie Gobeh Kamara described the occasion as important and recognized the role played by Sierra Leonean women with little support and an inadequate legal framework.
Statements from heads of WIPO and ARIPO congratulated the government and people of Sierra Leone on occasion and registered their continued support of the intellectual property system. They called for the recognition of everyone’s innovative and creative ability.
Head of the Legal Unit at the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General, Margaret Sumana gave a retrospective view of women’s creativity in Sierra Leone. She said although the IP concept is difficult to understand for many people, it is very important for human existence and advised the audience to get back to the drawing board when it comes to our dealings with tradition.
A display by local innovators climaxed the occasion.
Below are action shots from the celebration ↓ ↓ ↓