On 3 November 2023, the Geneva Hub held its second Champions meeting of the year at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) headquarters. In attendance were over 40 Champions representing International Organisations, Permanent Missions, and Civil Society Organisations.
Daren Tang, Director General of WIPO, kicked off the meeting by highlighting the gender gaps in the field of IP, with only around 16 percent of patent applications filed by women last year. He outlined the various steps WIPO has taken to address this, including the launch of the IP and Gender Action Plan and the appointment of the organisation’s first IP and Gender Champion. Finally, he stressed the need to collect more gender disaggregated data as well as develop national policies to encourage women’s participation in innovation and design. This was followed by remarks from U.S. Ambassador Sheba Crocker, who commended all Champions for their strong commitment towards gender equality, highlighting that this is a priority for the U.S. government which has launched several relevant strategies, including the 2023 U.S. Strategy and National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. She also outlined key IGC initiatives that have been made possible by a grant provided by the U.S. Mission in Geneva, including the Lunch and Learn series and Geneva Gender Debate.
Keynote UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk expressed grave concern regarding the global pushback against women’s rights, referring to the resurgence of conservative, patriarchal and misogynistic narratives that perpetuate the subordination of women. This has led, among other things, to a significant increase in attacks and violence against women both online and offline. The High Commissioner closed by reminding Champions of the remarkable women who shaped the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 75 years ago.
During the open discussion facilitated by Fleur Heyworth, Head of the IGC Secretariat, Champions were invited to intervene and exchange on gender-related priorities and actions. Several updates were provided, including on emerging Impact Groups. Members of the Climate Impact Group announced that they would be launching in 2024 and invited all interested Champions to join. Furthermore, initial discussions have been held regarding a Women, Peace and Security Impact Group. A proposal was also made to form an Impact Group focused on the collection and exchange of gender disaggregated data.
Mr. Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and Chair of the IGC Global Board, concluded the meeting by reminding Champions that, although progress has been made, it would be dangerous to remain complacent in the face of a global pushback. He also highlighted the increasing significance and potential of emerging digital technologies such as AI to drive gender equality forward, as well as the need to ensure that it does not reinforce gender biases. Finally, he called on all Champions to reassert their commitment to the IGC’s core pledges, in particular the Panel Parity Pledge. He ended with a hopeful message that, in the near future, “we will no longer see gender equality as an aspiration but as a reality”.