Understanding the gender gap on Wikipedia and more importantly, knowing how to bridge it, these were the goals of a workshop held on the 17 of January at Wikimedia Côte d’Ivoire headquarters in Abidjan.

From 15 January to 03 February across the world, librarians are working to improve Wikipedia. During this campaign called #1Lib1Ref (One librarian, one reference), they add at least one reference to Wikipedia. On this encyclopedia visited by over 8 million people per hour, articles without enough references are marked as unreliable, and generally deleted.

For the Ivorian librarians who gathered at this workshop, the interest of the #1Lib1ref campaign was twofold: understanding deeper the concept of Wikipedia and, more importantly, knowing how to edit its contents related to Ivorian women.

The other side of the mirror

If all the librarians attending this workshop were seasoned visitors of Wikipedia, the majority of them ignored that they could change the information available there. During the workshop, attendees created their accounts and made their first change (also referred to as “edit”) on the Free encyclopedia.

“I use Wikipedia quite frequently when searching for information. I use the collected information and cross it with other sources such as the Britannica encyclopedia. However, I did not know that I could also edit Wikipedia, “says Mrs. Nene Alou, archivist at the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Côte d’Ivoire.

Focusing on Ivorian women

Each participant had to choose, a subject of work, a Wikipedia article of a notable Ivorian women which needed references.

“In the article about Minister Kandia Camara, it was written that she had been a professional handball player. Yet no reference supported this statement. So I searched and found an article published online that talked mainly about her career and I inserted it as a reference, ” explains Philippe Koffi, with an enthusiastic tone.

For almost a year now Wikimedia Côte d’Ivoire has been emphasizing on women-related topics. Through Wiki Loves Women, a project run in Côte d’Ivoire as well as in Ghana and Nigeria, over 500 women profiles have been created, improved, and translated on Wikipedia.

Samuel Guébo