#WikiGap takes wing

Published 17 May 2018 in:

The WikiGap event in Paris.

The global #WikiGap initiative has spread like wildfire across the Swedish Foreign Service. So far, more than 1 600 participants in more than 50 countries have written and edited around 4 000 Wikipedia articles in more than 30 different languages. Now all the material needed to organise a #WikiGap event is being made freely available in the hope that the project will live on through other actors.

Last year, Sweden’s Embassy in New Delhi organised an edit-a-thon, #IndianWomeninScience, which marked the start of #WikiGap. Sweden’s embassies in Pretoria and Washington soon followed suit and inspired many more.

On 8 March this year, more than 30 Swedish missions abroad organised simultaneous edit-a-thons to highlight International Women’s Day by making an impression that would remain after the end of the day. Several more joined in over the following weeks, and within a month 54 missions abroad had held #WikiGap events. The number of articles (new or updated): 4 000.

“Write about history and current events!” This is what Equalisters, one of the participating organisations, wrote on its website and referred to #WikiGap.

And this is precisely what more than 1 600 participants did. In Lithuania, a girl sat and published her grandmother’s biography, which is written down in the KGB museum in Vilnius and, at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, an older woman sat with faded newspaper cuttings and typed on her laptop. The women they were writing about are a part of our history. Now they have their well-earned place in our time and in the future.

Ninety per cent of those who create content on Wikipedia are men, and there are four times more Wikipedia articles about men than there are about women. These statistics continue to shock and became a door-opener for many WikiGap participants. That anyone is able to edit Wikipedia was also unknown to many participants.

Annika Jagander at the Swedish Embassy in Riga explains that many participants say they will continue to edit articles on Wikipedia now that they know how unbalanced it is and how easy it is to influence it in the right direction. Many of the partners who participated also want to continue with the project in the future

The Women’s History Museum in Zambia plans to host recurring edit-a-thons four times a year, and the UN’s Special Events Unit is talking about a new tradition. Talking about #WikiGap as a closed chapter couldn’t be further off the mark. #WikiGap has only just begun.

In mid-April, a toolbox was published on the campaign page for #WikiGap to make it easier for any actors who want to take the project forward. At the same time, a #WikiGap campaign film was released. The film was screened for the first time at the Stockholm Forum on Gender Equality in April to more than 600 gender equality advocates from around the world.

It is hoped that #WikiGap will continue on its own wings and continue to inform and inspire for a long time to come.

 

#WikiGap in brief

So far…

  • In 54 countries.
  • With more than 1 600 participants.
  • Resulting in around 4 000 newly written or edited articles in more than 30 languages.

 

Quick tips: How to organise a WikiGap event!

  • It’s a good idea to begin planning about 2–3 months in advance.
  • Localise and contact the closest Wikimedia group.
  • Look for partners, for example a local university, library or museum.
  • Choose a theme for the Wikipedia articles to be produced and edited; this facilitates the selection process.
  • You can find all the tips and more detailed guidance in the manual available for download from swemfa.se/wikigap.
  • For inspiration, all the WikiGap reports from the missions abroad are available in Swedish on Klaranätet under ‘#WikiGap – Rapporter från utlandsmyndigheterna’.