Wikipedia celebrates women

A similar event hosted in New Deli earlier this year. Photo: http://www.stockholminternetforum.se/wikipedia-edit-a-thon/

Unisa, embassy of Sweden and WikimediaZA will host Pretoria’s first ever edit-a-thon.

The edit-a-thon is a community organised event that aims to teach people how to edit, update, and post articles on Wikipedia.

“It also serves as a way to increase content on the platform,” said embassy spokesperson André Mkandawire.

Mkandawire said the event was organised to rectify gender imbalances as Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopaedia, had fewer women editors, especially in South Africa.

“A 2011 study found that only 9% of Wikipedia editors were women. And the percentage for South Africa is even lower. If you look at the actual content there are four times as many articles about men than there are women.”

He said the edit-a-thon sought to get more women to contribute to, and edit Wikipedia.

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“From the embassy’s point of view, the idea of doing an event like this is to highlight and bring together the question of women’s representation [lack thereof] with the use of new digital platforms.

“Add to this that we are talking about such a broadly-used source of information, Wikipedia, and we felt that it was all the more appropriate,” Mkandawire said.

The edit-a-thon theme, HerStory, would celebrate women heroes.

“The aim of the #HerStory edit-a-thon is to increase the contribution and representation of women, particularly South Africa’s. Information on Wikipedia and many other platforms is often prejudiced and contributes towards biases that affect women,” said Unisa in a statement.

About 91 percent of the editors on the site were men and about four times as many articles were about men compared to women, it said.

Mkandawire said he was hoping the event would identify women who had excelled within and/or outside their fields.

“Women who have been prominent but are not referenced on Wikipedia, women who have made extraordinary achievements but not received recognition… Maybe you know of someone, have heard of or read about someone only that there is no info on Wikipedia about this person. This is where we are hoping that the participants will help us come up with names of prominent women,” he said.

Mkandawire said gender equality was an obvious priority of the Swedish foreign service that was why women would be celebrated and honoured at the edith-a-thon.

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“Research shows that it is also a formula for successful societies.

“Lack of representation based on gender does not make any sense wherever and whenever the outcome is discriminatory,” he said.

The embassy, WikimediaZA, the university’s department of English and the digital teaching laboratory were jointly hosting the event.

The event will be broadcast live on livestream.hearmyvoice.co.za

A similar event was hosted earlier this year in New Delhi, India.

Do you have more information about the story? Please send us an email to [email protected] or phone us on 083 625 4114.

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  AUTHOR
Thato Mahlangu
Journalist

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