Gender inequality is rife across Africa. Although much progress has been made to address these inequalities in the workplace and within society, there remains a systemic bias towards profiling women, especially with regards to information, news and knowledge sources, both online and offline.
There are significant numbers of notable women who have shaped the past of African societies, there are innovative African female business women who help to drive Africa’s many economies (formal and informal) and there are everyday realities that women and female children must face due to their gender. These stories need to sit alongside the ones of their male counterparts. Very few of these subjects can be found online, far fewer on the world’s largest knowledge repositories, such as Wikipedia.
To counter this obvious need, WikiAfrica has launched Wiki Loves Women. A 15-month long initiative project in collaboration with the Goethe-Instituts four countries across sub-Saharan Africa. Starting in January 2016, the project will address this lack of visibility with regards to women in these countries. The project will, at present, be run in 4 countries and will be open to both English and French oriented countries. Project managers are Isla Haddow-Flood and Florence Devouard.
Wiki Loves Women
Wiki Loves Women focuses on bridging two significant gaps on Wikimedia projects – women and Africa – both in terms of content about these subjects and in terms of participation by people from these groups.
The project is designed to leverage Wikipedia’s role as a global repository for the dissemination of information to achieve accessible and fair online representation of notable women in countries in Africa. In collaboration with the Goethe Instituts in the chosen focus countries, it will encourage the contribution of existing researched and verified information to Wikipedia with the intent of redressing the systemic bias online about women. The donated data and content will specifically focus on women’s contribution to the political, economic, scientific, cultural and heritage landscape, as well as the current socio-political status of women, in each country.
The project will achieve its aims by working with existing gender equality-focused civil society organisations to release their intelligence onto Wikipedia and by working with established Women’s groups and existing Wikipedia Volunteer groups to disseminate this information among the Wikimedia projects. In addition, the project will encourage the activation and support of new and existing editors (both female and gender-sensitised male Wikipedians) in the focus countries.
If this project is successful then we will have:
1. Increased content by providing significant increase in the role women played and are playing in the political, social and cultural sectors in Africa by increasing the number of articles on Wikipedia;
2. Focused participation: through the concentration on a) Women and b) Providing verified information and aggregating African content onto the world’s largest encyclopedia;
3. Cross continental and regional skills transfer, collaboration and networking
4. Increased visibility and understanding of the Wikimedia projects: through the project activations, events and work with the partners will have significantly raised the level of interest in, and usage of, the Wikimedia projects in the focus countries;
5. Provided training, support and encouragement that has built the volunteer base of contributing to Wikimedia and other open movement projects; and
6. Strengthened Wikipedia as a source of information and access point for Africa-related content.
This is done by:
1. Skills transfer and collaboration: the project will benefit by drawing on the resources and experience of members of Wikimedia Deutschland to assist with the initial training, mentoring and mid-action workshops;
2. Focusing on information literacy through skills transfer to activated Wikipedia editors as defined by the American Library Association http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/informationliteracycompetency);
3. Collaborative work with a broad array of institutional content partners (archives, museums, libraries, NGOs) as well as with communities and individuals;
4. Encouraging sustainable donation by implementing a long-term strategy for information, data and media from focus-related suitable organisations (content partners);
5. Profiling Goethe Institut libraries as being proactive in digital information literacy, and as providing meeting places for Wikipedia groups;
6. Community development and encouraging active and sustained participation: providing support and activities to activate, galvanise, and increase the editors within the focus countries by involving content partners, network partners and working with existing editor groups; and
7. Facilitating the process: Training, supporting and mentoring between six to twelve skilled Wikipedians in Residence (a minimum of one for each country) as facilitators to achieve the above goals.
This project announcement will be followed by
- January 2016: a call for applications for Wikipedians in Residence. (Announcements will be made to the African Wikimedians Mailing list, Facebook pages and Twitter).
Feature image: By Teemages (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons