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Wikimedia launches campaign for gender equity

Wikimedia launches campaign for gender equity

By Yusuf Yunus

Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, has announced the launch of its “Wikipedia Needs More Women” campaign.

The Wikimedia Foundation’s Chief Communications Officer, Anusha Alikhan, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Lagos.

Alikhan noted that the campaign celebrates efforts around the world, including Africa, to improve gender equity on Wikimedia projects and invites others to get involved.

According to her, 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.

Alikhan said that content on Wikipedia is written on notable subjects by over 265,000 volunteer contributors from around the world.

The communications officer added that these volunteers adhered to Wikipedia’s editorial standards, while also ensuring all information was 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, stating that 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,” she said.

The communications officer said that there were a number of ways that people could get involved to change the state and make a difference, from editing a Wikipedia page to attending an online event.

She added: “We are 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.”

Alikhan said that, for many years, the foundation and volunteers on Wikimedia projects had 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.

She said that Wikimedia User Group Nigeria (Wikimedia Nigeria)- a nonprofit organisation committed to promoting free access to knowledge through Wikimedia projects in Nigeria-was leading a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Nigerian women on Wikipedia.

She said that in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden in Nigeria, and the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Wikimedia Nigeria would organise the WikiGap Nigeria Online Challenge.

According to her, the challenge is open to the public to create new articles for notable women and improve existing articles about women on Wikipedia, with a focus on English, Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, and Tyap Wikipedias.

“This month, the Wikimedia Foundation’s new Wikipedia Needs More Women campaign is celebrating ongoing efforts, such as the WikiGap Nigeria Online Challenge, to close gender knowledge gaps and the volunteers doing this work.

“The campaign also calls for a collaborative effort from everyone to increase gender diversity on Wikimedia projects,” he said.

In her remark, the Chairperson of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Dr Adeola Ekine, said the group was proud to join forces with Wikimedia Nigeria in its dedicated pursuit of gender equity.

Ekine said that by empowering women to contribute to and shape the content on Wikipedia, the foundation was paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse platform for knowledge sharing.

Speaking further, Alikhan noted that the initiative kicked off on International Women’s Day, celebrated March 8, with an in-person symposium featuring engaging panel discussions.

He said that the foundation had on March 12 and March 13, organised a capacity-building workshop, where the Wikimedia Nigeria team would guide NAWOJ members in utilising and enhancing their understanding of Wikipedia.

Alikhan added that the campaign would conclude with the Online Challenge, running from March 14 to March 31.

Corroborating, the Wikimedia Nigeria User Group President, Olushola Olaniyan, said: “We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to contribute to the sum of all human knowledge.

“The WikiGap Nigeria Online Challenge seeks to foster inclusivity, diversity, and gender representation on Wikipedia and the internet at large.

“Join us and play your part in ensuring that we begin to see more women in the world’s largest encyclopedia.”

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