Gender Dimensions of Intellectual Property and Traditional Medicinal Knowledge

Published on 01 Nov 2007


Many countries are taking steps to develop national legislation to protect and promote their traditional knowledge; however, there are growing concerns about the constraints that may be placed on governments as a result of Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS-plus) conditions within regional and bilateral trade agreements. Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) in the area of traditonal knowledge are discussed in many international forums, and 'forum shopping' appears to be a strategy adopted by some countries to obviate the push for accepting a stringent intellectual property regime.


The paper draws on the limited literature on gender dimensions of intellectual property and traditional knowledge, which highlights the roles played by women, particularly indigenous women, as custodians of traditional knowledge and as consumers and producers of traditional medicines. The second section addresses the question: What is being protected by IPRs? The following section summarizes current discussions on intellectual property and traditional medicinal knowledge (TMK) in TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The paper concludes with some suggestions for developed and developing countries to orient the focus of discussions on intellectual property and traditional knowledge more closely to health concerns.

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