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Women Inventors

Published by IFIA
the International Federation of
Inventors' Associations

Last Update   October 3, 2003

bulletFrom a Newsletter to this Web page
bulletIllustrative Women Inventors Exhibit
bulletCollective Booth of Inventions
bulletOnline Commercialization of Inventions
bulletThe Marie Curie Medal
bulletIFIA Awardees [under construction]



Eight (8) issues of a 4-page biannual newsletter, IFIA-WIN, were published from January-June 1995 to July-December 1999. Since early 2000, it was decided to cease the publication of the newsletter and to develop, instead, a substantial Web presence on Women, which now includes inter alia the relevant basic information previously published. The role of this Web page remains, above all, that of a catalyst in support of IFIA-WIN main objective.


Beijing, China, 1995

by Maila Hakala (Finland). Coordinator of this Exhibition
(Article published in IFIA-WIN Newsletter, No. 2, July-December 1995)

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"Women inventors are here today," or "Join the good company of creative inventive women: IFIA-WIN"! 
were the messages on the table of our booth. ... Women inventors?  Who are they? - I could read our visitors' minds.  One woman, catching on to what it was all about, exclaimed, "What an idea! Great! Terrific!"

It had taken us women inventors several months to coordinate this first IFIA Illustrative Women Inventors Exhibit for the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.  Our exhibit was in Huairu, near Beijing, in the framework of the NGO Forum '95 on women (August 30 to September 8, 1995).  Our booth was in the OFAN (Once and Future Action Network) Pavilion.  OFAN was created for the Beijing events, to tackle women's issues in the field of science and technology.  The IFIA booth had posters of women inventors and their inventions representing 11 countries: Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Japan, Malaysia, Norway, the Philippines and Sweden.

We arrived on August 29, a young Finnish woman, a volunteer and myself, to put up the exhibition.  Later, women inventors - members of the IFIA family - discovered their way to our booth in quick succession: Dr Choo Yuen May, Malaysia;  Ms Carlita Rex-Doran, Philippines; Dr Gladys Hernandez, Cuba; and Ms Synnove Engeset, Norway.   After corresponding with them for months and not knowing if they could make it to China, it was exciting meeting them there.

It is impossible to estimate how many women visited our booth.  What is certain is that it attracted attention by introducing a new role model: woman inventor.  Four journalists said they were going to write about women inventors in their countries.  Our scientist inventors,  Dr Gladys Hernandez and Dr Choo Yuen May, were interviewed for a film.  Myself, I interviewed hundreds of women, asking them if they knew of any women inventors in their own country.  Only very few said yes, which  makes the informative value of our IFIA exhibit even more important.



(April 10 to 20, 1997)

Thanks to the Swiss Office for Trade Promotion (OSEC), IFIA was able to set up a collective booth for women inventors from developing countries at the 1997 Geneva International Exhibition of Inventions.


bulletcovered the cost of a well situated 50mē booth,
bulletassumed expenses (hotel & meals) for six women participants,
bulletoffered a global sum of SFr. 2,500 (approx. US$ 2,000 at the time) as awards. This sum was divided as follows: First Prize: SFr. 1,000 – Second Prize: SFr. 700 – Third Prize: SFr. 300  –  and five encouragement prizes of SFr. 100 each.


bulletsent invitation letters to its members from 33 developing countries;
bulletselected inventions of eight women from Argentina, Cuba, Peru, Philippines and Sri Lanka;
bulletset up and decorated the collective booth;
bulletgave general assistance and guidance to the inventors.

The first three prizes were awarded as follows:

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First Prize: Ms Neelakanthi Ekanayake Gunawardena (Sri Lanka), for her invention "Chemical attractant system and a method to trap the adult coconut pest, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus"
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Second Prize: Ms Mirta Mabel Fasci (Argentina), for her invention of a new design for plastic bottles with multiple uses.  Also the winner of IFIA Cup.

Third Prize: Ms Carlita Doran (Philippines), for her invention "Forest magic bioneem"

The inventions were judged equally with every other invention presented at the Geneva Fair. Thus, they were eligible and obtained, other prizes, distinctions, medals, etc., awarded during the Fair, including the IFIA Cup and the WIPO Award (Gold Medal, plus US$ 2,000).

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In the IFIA-OSEC booth from left to right: Ms Gaby Matsumoto (Peru): incubator for babies in risk; two Geneva Exhibition hostesses; Ms Mirta Mabel Fasci (Argentina, see above second prize); Ms Neelakanthi E. Gunawardena (Sri Lanka, see above first prize); Ms Erlinda Sanqui (Philippines): instant pinakbet flavoring composition; and Ms Carlita Doran (Philippines, see above third prize).



IFIA launched on November 15, 1999 a virtual showcase of inventions and new products, now called <1000inventions>. For an analysis of the women inventions published among the first 500 inventions posted on 1000inventions, go to our Women Inventors webpage Statistics and click on Inventions on IFIA <1000inventions>. The search references of each of the 88 inventions by women (as of September 23, 2003) are listed.

You can visit IFIA 1000inventions website at:




IFIA published the following two books:

Women Inventors Organizations: by Farag Moussa. Published in English, Chinese, 104 pages with illustrations, 44 illustrations. US $15.
A reference book, if you wish to learn more about women inventors organizations, or wish to create a similar organization in your own country.  Written by IFIA   President, this book was sponsored by UNIFEM (the United Nations Fund for Women).

Filipino_Book_W_Inventors.jpg (30380 bytes)Inventive Women from the Philippines
and Selected Developing Countries

by Farag Moussa. 

English, 128 pages with illustrations, US$15.


Prices include handling and mailing.
Copies will be mailed on receipt of cheques in the name of IFIA
(credit cards not accepted).



First published: August 23, 2002

In 1997, on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of Marie Curie's birth (November 7), IFIA suggested the creation of a "Marie Curie Medal" to be awarded for the first time that year.

During the first 50 years of its existence, Unesco had established 42 medals. All these medals featured men. At the suggestion of IFIA President, the 43rd medal paid tribute to the genius of a woman, at last. Due credit was given to the role of IFIA by Unesco.

See below Unesco webpage.




Maria Sklodowska Curie Medal

In order to celebrate the 130th anniversary of Marie Curie's birth and underline women's role in the field of science, UNESCO will present the first UNESCO medal with a woman's effigy (Marie Curie, born Maria Sklodowska).

This project was initiated by the Unit for the Promotion of the Status of Women and Gender Equality in collaboration with the International Federation of Inventors' Associations and the Polish Permanent Delegation.

The medal was designed by a Polish woman, Magdalena Dobrucka.

2. Poland
At the end of 1997, the Association of Polish Inventors and Rationalizers (SPWIR), also followed IFIA President's suggestion, by creating and awarding its own "Marie Curie Medal". Let us remember that Marie Curie was Polish by birth.

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It is to be noted that both medals, the Unesco and the Polish medals, are awarded to women and men alike.

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