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Wikimedia Foundation In Global Efforts Surge to Close Wikipedia’s Gender Gap

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The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit behind Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, today announced the launch of its “Wikipedia Needs More Women” campaign. The campaign celebrates efforts around the world, including Africa, to improve gender equity on Wikimedia projects and invites others to get involved.

Understanding gender gaps

As one of the world’s largest knowledge resources, with 62 million articles in over 300 languages and 15 billion views per month, Wikipedia plays a crucial role in shaping our understanding of the world.

Content on Wikipedia is written on notable subjects by over 265,000 volunteer contributors from around the world. These volunteers adhere to Wikipedia’s editorial standards, ensuring all information is backed by reliable sources and presented from a neutral point of view

Wikipedia depends on the availability of existing published sources to verify the facts in its articles. But in many places around the world, women have been left out of historical narratives and traditional sources of knowledge.  This gender gap is an all-pervasive issue across the internet. This means that many of these knowledge gaps are present on Wikipedia, and women remain significantly underrepresented.

“On International Women’s Day, the ‘Wikipedia Needs More Women’ campaign is a call to action for everyone to help close these knowledge gaps on Wikipedia. There are a number of ways that people can get involved to change the stats and make a difference, from editing a Wikipedia page, to attending an online event,” said Anusha Alikhan, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Chief Communications Officer. “We’re also calling on everyone — journalists, academics, thought leaders, and individuals and organizations across the information landscape — to increase their coverage of women. This will help build out the ecosystem of secondary literature that Wikipedia volunteers rely on to create and improve content about women.”

How Africa has progressed in closing gender gaps

For many years, the Wikimedia Foundation and volunteers on Wikimedia projects have been making global efforts to address these knowledge gaps, and increase the equitable engagement and representation of all people and subjects on Wikipedia and beyond.

Gender equity efforts in Kenya

Over the last two years (from 2022 to 2024), there was a 26% increase in the number of biographies and other content about women from Kenya on Wikimedia projects. This growth is a testament to the positive impact of the initiatives and objectives of the women-led Wikimedia Community User Group Kenya.

The User Group is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting free access to knowledge by mobilizing a new generation of volunteers on Wikimedia projects in Kenya. The group has prioritized efforts to close gender gaps on the English and Swahili versions of Wikipedia and the internet at large. By actively organizing conventions, conferences, meetings, workshops, edit-a-thons, and more, the User Group plays a pivotal role in improving equitable coverage of Kenyan women on Wikipedia and beyond. Some examples of these efforts in Kenya include:

  • Librarians such as Caroline Mwaura have engaged in the global “One Librarian, One Reference” campaign, improving Wikipedia articles by adding citations from library resources. Caroline is a co-founder of the Wikimedia Community User Group Kenya.
  • Faith Mwanyolo is a member of the Wikimedia Community in Kenya. She got involved in Wikimedia when she organized WikiGap in Nairobi, a campaign run in partnership with the Swedish Embassy to close gender gaps.

“It is inspiring to see the progress made across the African continent to improve gender equity on Wikipedia and beyond,” said Masana Mulaudzi, Senior Manager of Campaign Organizing at the Wikimedia Foundation. “As one of the world’s top resources for information, it’s critical for Wikipedia to represent the full, rich diversity of all humanity. When more people from Africa contribute to Wikipedia, we move closer to achieving this vision.”

About the “Wikipedia Needs More Women” campaign

This month, the Wikimedia Foundation’s new “Wikipedia Needs More Women” campaign is celebrating ongoing efforts to close gender knowledge gaps and the volunteers doing this work, while also calling for a collaborative effort from everyone to increase gender diversity on Wikimedia projects.

Journalist/PR Practitioner who seeks to tell the African stories in an African way. Be it on Politics, Sports, Business, and Current News the story will be told. Twitter @kmajangah

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