Every year in April, World Intellectual Property (IP) Day is celebrated around the globe. The annual World IP Day highlights the role that IP rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity and in ensuring that society benefits from this ingenuity.
To commemorate this day, the Stellenbosch University Museum hosted a special seminar, Powering change: Stellenbosch womxn in innovation and creativity, in collaboration with the Anton Mostert Chair of Intellectual Property Law at the Faculty of Law and in cooperation with Innovus.
The seminar focused on people behind the innovation, creativity and social impact that underlie IP rights in South Africa and featured five female speakers, who shared their personal journeys and experiences and helped to emphasise the work of women in science, technology, law, media, business, government, medicine, journalism, enterprise ˗ any field, in fact.
Stellenbosch University (SU) was represented by four speakers ˗ Thuli Madonsela, former Public Protector of South Africa, appointed recently as Professor in the Department of Public Law and to the Faculty Trust Chair in Social Justice, Madelein Kleyn, Research Fellow of the Anton Mostert Chair of Intellectual Property Law, Anna-Mart Engelbrecht, Professor in the Department of Physiological Sciences, and Anita Nel, Chief Executive Officer of Innovus ˗ and from the national Department of Science and Technology was Jetane Charsley, Director of Regulatory and Compliance at the National Intellectual Property Management Office.
Each speaker highlighted some of the challenges faced by South Africans, particularly South African women, and inspired the audience to pursue and persevere in creative, innovative and socially beneficial work despite the unique challenges that they might face in the workforce and in society.
According to Thuli Madonsela, experiencing failure forms an integral part of our growth and success in life. “I embraced failure as part of life. Falling is not failure and failure is not final. No one in life who has achieved remarkable heights can say they never tasted failure. It's a question of embracing it as part of the road to success."
Madonsela encouraged the audience by sharing inspirational reflections on her past work as Public Protector. She reiterated the importance of gaining support from others when embarking on new ventures or when facing challenges, especially in the workplace. “In life, you just have to follow what you believe is right. You have to do what you love. You have to have faith in your ability to achieve what is right and you have to have faith in humanity."
Madelein Kleyn motivated women to get more involved in technology or businesses that offer those opportunities. While she was working at Sasol years ago, Kleyn initiated and headed the first intellectual property department at the chemical company, something that she said would never have happened if she had not sought out new opportunities and innovation.
“Innovation is not only about creating amazing, wonderful technologies but also about making an interesting environment where you live, creating and making opportunities for those who don't have them. My motto in life is you're never too good to do anything or to try anything. If you get complacent by who you are and what you can do and what you can accomplish, you'll never accomplish anything bigger," Kleyn said.
Anna-Mart Engelbrecht highlighted the role played by Innovus in helping the Faculty of Science with ideas that stimulate creativity. She added that the Department is working on a device that will help patients detect cancer earlier. “We hope to take this device to the most rural parts of South Africa."
In her presentation, Jetane Charsley touched on the importance of Innovator Africa, a diverse women's power team that deploys technology to empower women and girls, ensuring that African female technologists are at the forefront of technology. “If you want to go fast, go alone. And if you want to go far, go together."
- Photographer: Anton Jordaan