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Wikimedia launches campaign for gender equity

by Haruna Gimba

By Muhammad Amaan

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, Ms Anusha Alikhan, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Lagos.

According to her, the campaign is to celebrate efforts to improve gender equity on Wikimedia projects and invite others to get involved.

The officer stated that 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 understanding of the world.

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

She explained that the volunteers adhered to Wikipedia’s editorial standards, while also ensuring all information are backed by reliable sources, presented from neutral point of view.

She said, “Wikipedia depends on availability of existing published sources to verify facts in its articles.

“Women have been left out of historical narratives and traditional sources of knowledge, a gender gap that is all-pervasive 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 the knowledge gaps on Wikipedia.”

She pointed out that there are ways people can get involved to change the state and make a difference, from editing a Wikipedia page to attending an online event.

Alikhan added that “We are also calling on everyone – journalists, academics, thought leaders, and individuals and organisations across the information landscape to increase their coverage of women.

“This will help to build out the ecosystem of secondary literature that Wikipedia volunteers rely on to create and improve content about women.”

Alikhan announced 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.

She said the challenge is open to the public to create new articles for notable women and improve existing articles, with focus on English, Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, and Tyap Wikipedias.

Alikhan stated that “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 collaborative efforts from everyone to increase gender diversity on Wikimedia projects.”

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