We are all aware of the large reach and popularity of Wikipedia. However, what most people don’t know is that, according to a study conducted in 2011, globally only 9% of the editors on Wikipedia were women. And the percentage for India is even lower, just 3%.
Wikipedia recognises the systemic gender bias that is created because of factors such as these and thus enables its diverse range of users to edit and create Wikipedia pages, with reliable and authentic sources.
Feminism in India conducts monthly Wikipedia edit-a-thons with different organisations exploring various facets of gender in India, thus increasing content on women and marginalized communities on Wikipedia as well as training women to create and edit Wikipedia pages and hence increasing the number of women editors.
For February, we collaborated with Nazariya: A Grassroots LGBT-Straight Alliance and hosted an Editathon on Queer Rights Activists at the South Asian University. The edit-a-thon was aimed at creating/editing Wikipedia pages of Indian queer rights activists who lack representation on the platform currently.
The Nazariya team prepared a list of Indian queer rights activists a week before the edit-a-thon, while some of the names did have a page on Wikipedia, they had very basic and limited information (stub pages). We used online resources for references.
It’s #WikipediaEditathon Saturday and we are with #NazariyaLGBT at #SouthAsianUniversity, editing Wikipedia pages of #queer rights activists! Follow this thread! pic.twitter.com/7V7m5kAVil
— Feminism in India (@FeminismInIndia) February 10, 2018
We were a group of 10 participants in total. The event began with a discussion on Wikipedia and its gender gap and on the whys and hows of Wikipedia editing for new-comers.
After that, each participant chose one or more Indian queer rights activist absent from Wikipedia, and started digging through the internet looking for interviews, news reports and e-books to write comprehensive Wikipedia articles on them.
By the end of the day, the participants edited a total of 9 Wikipedia pages in English. See additional statistics here.
Somya Jain, a new participant, said, “The Wikipedia-editathon was an amazing experience for us. I wasn’t aware that we as citizens could edit and omit information on important yet uncovered topics like queer activists and history. The research I undertook for appropriate information on a queer activist made me realize the importance of the whole picture that Wikipedia, one of the main sources of information globally, provides. To gather all the essential information about an activist who deserves to be recognized and then write about it to ensure that she’s represented on Wikipedia was a meaningful experience (apart from hogging all the pizza, of course!).”