Photo by Teemages, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Photo by Teemages, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Malouma is a Mauritanian singer and songwriter who was forced to put her career on hold after being forced into marriage. Many of her songs advocate for women’s rights, so much so that she was censored for part of the 1990s in Mauretania.

Hannah Kudjoe was a Ghanaian dressmaker who later became a political activist. She became of the the major figures calling for for the independence of their country in the 1940s.

Qut el Kouloub was a writer from Egypt who contributed generously to French literature in the first half of the twentieth century. Many critics were confused as to whether her works are fictional or nonfictional historical biographies, and like Malouma, Kouloub used her novels to advocate for women’s rights in Egypt.

The work of Malouma, Kudjoe, and Kouloub all deserve a place in history, but women of their background and experience are not well-represented on the internet. Two of the three women had no article on the English Wikipedia until Wiki Loves Women participants created them; they also helped develop the third one. In addition to that, over 1,300 other pages have been created or developed as part of the project.

Wiki Loves Women is a project that addresses two content gaps on Wikipedia at the same time. Its aim is to encourage both gender and geographical diversity on Wikipedia by adding content about African women. The project is now active in Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana.

“I … realised recently that many articles on Wikipedia are not being read [often],” says Olaniyan Olushola, the project manager of Wiki Loves Women in Nigeria. Olushola used the Wikimedia user group Nigeria Facebook page to promote the content created as part of the Wiki Loves Women events that he leads.

Olushola is trying to “find a way to honor Nigerian women by bridging gender inequalities and reducing systemic bias on Wikipedia.” He was introduced to Wikipedia and mentored by a woman: Isla Haddow-Flood, a co-founder of Wiki Loves Women.

Together with Florence Devouard, Haddow-Flood worked on developing the idea of a project that could help increase the presence of African women on Wikipedia. “After working together on Kumusha Takes Wiki and Wiki Loves Africa, it was apparent that the content gap relating to women was a real issue,” Devouard and Haddow-Flood wrote in an email to us. They continued:

With less than 20% of (all) Wikipedia contributors being female, the global community has long acknowledged the gender gap as a problem. But in sub-Saharan Africa, when combined with the contributor gap—only 25% of edits to subjects about the Sub-Saharan region come from within the region—the lack of information about women forms an abyss.

 
Wiki Loves Women kicked off in January 2016 with a writing contest that was held as part of Wikipedia’s fifteenth anniversary. Several partners, including the German cultural association Goethe-Institut, and four teams in different African countries joined the initiative. So far, participants of the project have uploaded over 1,000 photos to Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, in addition to editing and creating a similar number of articles on Wikipedia.

On International Women’s Day in March, Wiki Loves Women will hold a translate-a-thon, an editing event to translate Wikipedia articles about women in different languages. The organizers emphasize that everyone is welcome to join.

“It is time for the people of Africa to tell their own stories, change their narrative, shake up the global stereotypes, and share information about what they value and find interesting and important in the world,” say Haddow-Flood and Devouard.

In brief

Wikimania updates: Scholarship applications for Wikimania 2017, which is being held in Montréal, Canada on 11–13 August, are now being accepted. The deadline is on 20 February 2017 at 23:59 UTC. More information is available on the scholarships page and on the FAQ page of the event. Moreover, the steering committee of Wikimania, has decided to explore Cape Town in South Africa as a host for Wikimania 2018. A final decision will be made by spring 2017.

Three billion edits: This week, the total edit count on all Wikimedia projects reached 3,000,000,000. Near the same time, the WikiSpecies community celebrated creating their 500,000th page. The entry is about Pseudocalotes drogon and was created by Wikimedian Burmeister.

Wikimedia developer summit 2017: Last week, many Wikimedia technical contributors, third-party developers, users of MediaWiki and Wikimedia APIs gathered at Golden Gate Club in San Francisco for the Wikimedia developer summit 2017. The event lasted for 2 days where the attendees discussed a list of main topics selected by the community.

Donating data to Wikidata: Wikimedia Germany have published a tutorial video about Wikidata, the collaboratively-edited knowledge base. The short video explores WikiData and how contributing to the website works.

2016 on the Arabic Wikipedia: Mohamed Badaren, an editor and administrator on the Arabic Wikipedia has created a video with a summary of the major events in 2016 and their impact on Wikipedia. The video is an adaptation of earlier English-language versions, Edit 2014 and Edit 2015.

New Signpost published: A new edition of the English Wikipedia’s community-written news journal was published this week. Stories included a “surge” in new administrator promotions on the English Wikipedia; an introspective piece looking at the future of the Signpost; coverage of recent research suggesting that women are not more likely to edit about women; an interview with an active Wikipedian who has been blind since birth; and more.

Kurier: New pieces in the Kurier, the German Wikipedia’s “not necessarily neutral [and] non-encyclopedic” news page, include a three-part look back at the year 2016 and an invitation to a Wiki Loves Music event in Hamburg.

Wiki Project Med Foundation is open for members: Wiki Project Med Foundation is a user group that promotes for better coverage of Medical content on Wikimedia projects. The group is now open for membership applications.

Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern
Wikimedia Foundation