This year the 5th Wiki Indaba annual conference was held virtually under the theme of Rethink +Reset: Vision & Future. It was hosted by the Wikimedia Community Uganda Usergroup and ran from the 5th – 7th November 2021.
The main goal of this conference was to give the Wikimedia communities in Africa and the diaspora the platform to come together, share common goals and strategize on better ways to best collaborate together.
Introducing the Focus Group to the community
Wiki Loves Women’s Focus Group was created to develop the leadership skills of women in the Wikimedia movement through an ever-evolving mentorship and a programme designed around skills and knowledge transfer. It is specifically designed to support community leaders as they implement gender-equity programmes that facilitate and develop local community engagement with Wikimedia and aligned Open movements.
The Wiki Loves Women Focus Group was featured in this year’s Wiki Indaba conference through a panel discussion. Panelist shared their journey as part of the WLW Focus Group and their stance on diversity and inclusion issues as well as the digital divide on gender online. Moderated by Candy Khohliwe (Botswana), the discussion featured Morleen Bortman (Zimbabwe), Carol Mwaura (Kenya), and Tochi Friday (Nigeria).
The panelists shared their encounters (and frustrations) with, and the roots of, the gender digital divide. Speaking from her experiences in Kenya, Carol mentioned that the gender digital divide seems to be widening due to society’s notions that “a woman is a homemaker” and therefore they are meant to stay at home. This pervasive attitude increases the digital divide, and so that they are not perceived to rebel, many women shy away from taking part in the digital space.
Tochi exclaimed that she was happy to see the Wikimedia Foundation focusing some energy towards addressing diversity and inclusion, especially in supporting different languages. This language inclusion reinforces a sense of association and belonging.
Morleen feels that in order to increase the visibility and representation of women online (and in doing so attract skilled contributors), it’s important to lay the foundation through awareness. It is important for people to clearly understand what they are contributing towards, and how their personal passions align with the mission and vision of the Wikimedia Movement.
Impact of the Focus Group
The panelists further explained the impact that being a member of the Focus Group has had on their lives. They have developed digitals skills, built networks with other Wikimedia communities, learned how to contribute to Wikiquote, and have hosted events. They have also benefited greatly from the mentorship and peer-to-peer support from the other members within the group.
At the end of the panel discussion, there was positive feedback from the Wiki Indaba audience, who appreciate just how far Wiki Loves Women has come. They especially appreciated how it keeps evolving to engage and upskill women via different mediums such as the WLW Focus Group, the #Shesaid Campaign, the upcoming WLW Inspiring Open podcast, and the annual ISA drive – Tell Us About Her – to make women more visible. Several were eager to join the Focus Group in 2022.
In conclusion, Wiki Indaba 2021 was a great platform to explain and share the impact it has had on Wiki Loves Women’s Focus Group leaders, but also their communities across Africa. Learn more about our activities on this website, or on the Wikimedia Community Meta page.