Gender inequality is rife across Africa - and although much progress has been made to address these inequalities in the workplace and within society, there remains a systemic bias that disadvantages women by a focus on profiling men, especially with regards to information, news and knowledge, both online and offline.
There are significant numbers of notable women who have shaped Africa's countries and societies, there are innovative business women who help to drive Africa’s many economies (both the 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.
The Wiki Loves Women project addresses this bias and 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 women.
In collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, Wiki Loves Women will operate in four countries to encourage the contribution of existing researched and verified information from Public Institutions, Civil Society Organisations and Gender-equality groups to Wikipedia. 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. In addition, the project will encourage the activation and support of new and existing editors in the focus countries.
“One of our key interests is to explore future ways of building and sharing knowledge”, says Brigitte Doellgast, Head of the Library and Information Department at the Goethe-Institut Johannesburg. “Wiki Loves Women will use the digital space as a means of participation, challenging biased views of the African continent and the contribution of women to its societies.”
Coinciding with the launch of Wiki Loves Women is the celebration of 15 years of Wikipedia on the 15th of January 2016. So much has been achieved in the 15 years of Wikipedia’s digital life, but there is still so much that needs to be done. For example, even after 15 years of adding information about all sorts of fascinating subjects, content about Africa in general, and African women in particular, is still limited on the world's largest source of knowledge.
WikiAfrica has chosen to celebrate Wikipedia 15 by organising a bilingual (English/French) writing contest to increase the number of biographies on notable African women on Wikipedia. The contest is looking for 15 teams to create 15 articles on Wikipedia about notable leaders, historic and contemporary who have influenced their communities across Africa. The contest will start on the 15th of January 2016 (0:00 UTC) and will end on the 30th of January 2016 (23:59 UTC).
Wiki Loves Women is a 15 month project of WikiAfrica at the Africa Centre, in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, and is being managed by Isla Haddow-Flood and Florence Devouard.