About Wiki Loves Women
The Wiki Loves Women project has been 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.
The aim is to 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.
Why Wiki Loves Women is necessary
Gender inequality is rife across sub-saharan 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. The project 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 gender gap has long been known to exist in computer-related occupations, and indeed the Wikimedia community was aware of this issue from the very early days. The first large-scale publication that attempted to quantify the gap was a survey conducted by the United Nations University and published in March 2010. The study of Wikipedia’s contributor base showed that it has barely 13 percent women.
In ITU’s 2019 report 4.1 billion people (53% of the global population) are online. This means that 3.6 billion people are not connected to the Internet, despite 96% of the global population living within reach of a mobile signal. The majority of these unconnected people live in the least Developed Countries, where 80% of the population is offline. In 2019 Africa’s internet penetration was at 39.3 % (the world’s lowest). In 2020, Internet penetration across southern Africa is at 26.4%.
Internet access for women lags behind men. Overall, 48% of all women use the Internet, compared with 58% of all men. In Africa, the internet penetration rate drops to 33.8% for men and 22.6% for women. The digital gender gap has been widening over recent years. Other research finds that urban poor women are 50% less likely to use the internet than men.
Analysis of these statistics mentioned above indicate the following barriers to Internet use:
- A lack of digital skills
- A lack of meaningful and interesting content (subjects that women are interested in or relate to, e.g. local issues, health,)
- A lack of content that represents their experience (e.g. expert women as thought leaders, stereotypical portrayal, etc.)
- A lack of cultural considerations (local context, stories and languages).
Lack of access to information by women becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. If women do not see themselves represented online with stories that are in their language and relevant to their culture, they are less likely to see themselves as capable of contributing. Further, without inspiring women being showcased on local media, many women will not be inspired to follow similar pathways. Leaving nobody behind is a central precept of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
If this project is successful then we will have:
- Increased gender-specific content: an increase in the amount and type of content on the Wikimedia projects that relate to, celebrate, and interest women;
- Raised visibility of gender and representation gaps: Wiki Loves Women’s activations, events, and works with the partners significantly raises the level of knowledge about the consequences of the gender gap and provided skilled participants eager to combat these persistent gaps.
- Transferred key digital and knowledge contribution skills: sustained contribution of gendered subjects that interest, reflect, and relate to women through strategic, layered skills transfer at key points in the participants’ journey, and a focused program to develop the Wikimedia and gender-equity knowledge, and project management, communications and community building skills of community leaders.
This is done by:
- Leadership development: Develop the contribution, communication, community building, and event organizing skills, and Wikiverse knowledge, of women so that they have the skills, knowledge, and network base to sustainably activate local participants (and content) via drives and events.
- Accessible Wikimedia content drives: Develop and host strategic content drives to engage Wiki Loves Women participants, and support Wikimedia-focused gender gap drives across the movement.
- Community development: Provide support and activities that motivate, activate, galvanize, and increase participants and immerse them within the local Wikimedia communities.
- Develop key mutually supportive partnerships: Engage content, network, and communications partners to facilitate the project, engage their members, and provide mutual benefit.
- Visibility beyond the Wikimedia projects: Advocate for the Open movement and celebrate the achievements of Open-oriented women through external-facing campaigns.
Wiki Loves Women is a multi-country, multi-faceted project that aims at encouraging the contribution of content that celebrates the influence of women leaders, and reflects the realities faced by women and girls across Africa. The work is done in teams that are closely aligned with the local Wikimedia volunteer group in each country. These teams work with content organisations to contribute freely-licensed information, texts, images and media to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. Wiki Loves Women was initiated for the WikiAfrica movement by the principals of Wiki In Africa in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut and funded in 2018 by the Wikimedia Foundation.
Wiki Loves Women was founded by Isla Haddow-Flood and Florence Devouard. Since its launch, it has encouraged countless contributions to the Wikimedia projects through bi-annual international online drives, and sustained interventions in 15 countries in partnership with over 80 gender-equity organisations in Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. A series of online drives (10 by 2021) keeps the visibility of the issue active by calling for international attention to the gaps on the Wikimedia projects.
It is a pivotal project of Wiki In Africa and is supported by the Wikimedia Foundation and the Goethe-Institut. The project documentation and its outcomes are published under CC BY SA 4.0. The project documentation and its outcome are published under CC BY SA 4.0
- Slideshow: all others: Available via the Wiki Loves women Category on Wikimedia Commons
- Icon: Bullhorn by Gregor Cresnar from the Noun Project
- Blog post images: Available via the Wiki Loves women Category on Wikimedia Commons