“Closing the gender gap”, illustration was done by the author, Marianna Espinós inspired on Embassy of Sweden in Amman 2019a
“Currently, 9 out of 10 articles written on Wikipedia are about men”, is being written on the info sheet of WikiGap event, developed in Amman on 7th March 2019. Wikipedia is one of the most famous online encyclopedias, a huge source of knowledge developed mainly by volunteers. However, there is a colossal gap between the visibility and the participation of men and women. For instance, statistics show that only 9% of the contributors are women (Wikipedia 2019a).
To address this problem, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is organizing, since 2017, considering the date of Women’s Day, some events under the hashtag #WikiGap. The main goal is to create an edit-a-thon movement to close Wikipedia gender’s gap; an edit-a-thon is an organized event where editors of online communities such as Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap, and LocalWiki edit and improve a specific topic or type of content, typically including basic editing training for new editors (Wikipedia 2019a).
The birth of #WikiGap was on March 2017, when a four languages edit-a-thon was organized between the Swedish embassy in New Delhi and Stockholm for International Women’s day. Indeed, the Swedish embassies in Pretoria and Washington DC created similar events. Since then, the ministry has expanded the idea, organizing Wikipedia edit-a-thons around the world. Furthermore, they developed a tool kit regarding how embassies should organize #WikiGap events, being compromised on surfacing women’s achievements. Likewise, they work in partnership with Wikimedia branches and local organizations.
Sweden’s feminist foreign policy
Thompson and Asquith 2018
It is not a coincidence that Wikigap movement is coming from the Swedish Embassy. Since 2014, Sweden has become a pioneer country while launching a feminist foreign policy. According to them, “this means applying a systematic gender equality perspective throughout the whole foreign policy agenda” (Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2018, 6-7). Their policy is based on facts and statistics, considering the daily lives of girls and women, and is looking for visible results on people. Evidently, after accurate research, they affirm, “gender equal societies enjoy better health, stronger economic growth, and higher security. It also shows that gender equality contributes to peace and that peace negotiations in which women have taken part have a better chance of being sustainable” (Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2018, 6-7). Gender equality is an objective, which born as a reaction to discrimination and systematic subordination of women and girls all over the world.
WikiGap movement per years.
After the success in 2017, when Wikigap took place for the first time, in 2018 there was a more organized, documented and noteworthy participation. More than 1.600 people from at least 54 countries took part of the movement, giving as a result around 4.000 articles –new or updated- about women in 30 different languages (Swedish Foreign Policy Stories 2018). Significantly, the UN Special Events Unit started talking about the creation of a new tradition.
Decidedly, the current 2019 Wikimedia Sverige and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized numerous Wikipedia edit-a-thon during 8 March –which continued along March and will go beyond. Thus, there is a list of all the #WikiGap events created around the world (Wikimedia 2019a). On the map added down below, it is possible to have an illustrated idea of the countries that were participating. The last day of the WikiGap challenge 2019 was this 8th of April, with the significant contribution of 1,440 articles added or edited (Wikimedia 2019b).
Places where WikiGap took place in 2019 (Wikimedia 2019a)
Jordan #Wikigap event
For the 8 of March 2018, The Jordan Times published a brief article entitled “Swedish embassy, UN partner with Wikimedia Levant to close the gender gap on Wikipedia”. In this particular piece, it is mentioned the collaboration between the Swedish embassy in Amman and the UN Jordan, together with Wikimedia Levant. The main goal of the event was to highlight the profile of women from Jordan and the Arab world on International Women’s day (Jordan Times, 2018).
For the second consecutive year, the Swedish and Canadian embassies in Amman –together with local partners and Wikimedia Levant- organized an edit-a-thone #Wikigap event. It took part on the 7th of March, regarding International Women’s Day, at Khawarizmi University Technical College. “The initiative aims to increase the number of women represented on Wikipedia and draw attention to the important achievements of great Jordanian and Arab women”, was the Swedish embassy posting on Facebook (Embassy of Sweden in Amman 2019).
Info graphic about Amman WikiGap results (Wikimedia 2019c)
The results in Jordan for this 2019 WikiGap were a total of 69 editors, who created 144 articles and edited 153 more –with a result of 557 edits according to the statistics page (Wikimedia 2019c). Moreover, there were 2.82K article views. Wikimedia Levant was working on it from the 6th to the 9th of March, approximately, when took place the last piece editions.
In way of example: Jordanian Women now in Wikipedia
Illustration about Sousan Al Fakheire (done by the author, Marianna Espinós)
In way of example, women such as Sousan Al Fakheire are now in Wikipedia –available only in Arabic. She is an acknowledged archeologist from Jordan, born in 1965 in Aqaba. Graduated from the University of Jordan, she is considered one of the most experts in submerged ruins. Her Master project was about the end of Stone Age in Jordan in the light of new discoveries. Moreover, she did a Ph.D. about Islamic history and has written her thesis about “The Jerusalem Scriptures in the Book of Light of the 9th Century”.
Illustration about Suhair Salty Saleh Mustafa Al-Tal (done by the author, Marianna Espinós)
Another example is the biography about the Jordanian writer Suhair Salty Saleh Mustafa Al-Tal, also accessible only in Arabic. She was born in 1952, in Irbid, and is known as a specialist in feminist research, women’s studies and human rights. Suhair Salty has written several novels, theater plots and poems (specifically “qasida”, an ancient Arabic form of writing poetry). Furthermore, she has been collaborating with Jordanian and Arab newspaper for more than 15 years; later, she enrolled in the culture ministry of Jordan.
#WikiGap, just a beginning
To revert the statistics of “9 out of 10 articles written on Wikipedia are about men”, WikiGap movement is only a beginning. There is a need for more efforts to achieve Gender equality, a right on its own. Women are still under subordination, patriarchy is a global reality and for that reason decisions such as creating a “feminist foreign policy” are essential; also to achieve other goals regarding peace and security.
Illustration about Jordanian and Arab women now in Wikipedia (or waiting to be part). Done by the author, Marianna Espinós
New profiles, such as Sousan Al Fakheire, were created; others, like Habra Hedy or Chantelle Anderson, were edited to have a fuller biography. Others, like Alaa Fares are still missing on Wikipedia. However, WikiGap events always, as far as I am concerned, will make a great impact to achieve gender equality. The visibility of woman having roles like architects, writers or basketball players, among others, are important to work as references and build a better future in terms of having the same opportunities as a man.
To keep reading
Maher, Katherine. 2018. “Wikipedia is a mirror of the world’s gender biases”, in Wikimedia Foundation. October 18. Here
Torres, Nicole. 2016. “Why Do So Few Women Edit Wikipedia?” in Harvard Business Review. June 02. Here
Embassy of Sweden in Amman. 2019. Wikigap video on Facebook Watch. Here
The Jordan Times. 2018. “Swedish embassy, UN partner with Wikimedia Levant to close the gender gap on Wikipedia”. Accessed April 8. Here
Swedish Foreign Policy Stories. 2018. #WikiGap takes wing. Accessed April 7. Here
Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2018. Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy. Government Offices of Sweden.
Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2019a. Facebook Post 7th March. Accessed April 7. Here
Thomson L. and Christina Asquith. 2018. “One small step for Feminist Foreign Policy”, in Foreign Policy. September 20. Illustration by Melissa Mcfeeters. Here
Wikimedia. 2019a. Events. Accessed April 8. Here
Wikimedia. 2019b. Wikigap Challenge. Accessed April 8. Here
Wikimedia. 2019c. Statistics page about WikiGap in Jordan. Accessed April 8, here
Wikipedia. 2019a. WikiGap Madrid 2019. Accessed April 8. Here
Reviewed woman biographies on Wikipedia to develop this article:
Chantelle Anderson, here
Hedy Habra, here
Sousan Al Fakherie, here
Suhair Salty Saleh Mustafa Al-Tal, here