How Local Initiative Boosts Women’s Representation in the World’s Largest Encyclopedia | The new times
Rwandan women from various sectors have been profiled and added to Wikipedia, the world’s largest encyclopedia.
Biographies of 264 women from fields including politics, activism, sports and the art industry were presented in English and Kinyarwanda, bringing their total to more than 400.
The initiative of Wikimedia Community User Group Rwanda, a non-governmental organization, aims to increase the representation of articles by and about women on Wikipedia.
The articles were created by different Rwandan Wikipedia editors as part of an initiative called “Wikigap challenge” which aimed to increase the coverage of diverse Rwandan women across all sectors, on Wikipedia in terms of content and contributors.
This was the third edition organized by the NGO which, among other activities, sensitizes and trains different communities in Rwanda on Wikipedia with a focus on Wikipedia in Kinyarwanda.
According to Derrick Orta Ndahiro, president of the organization, the challenge lasted 45 days (from April 30 to June 14) and 26 publishers participated, the majority being women.
For him, the result went beyond their expectations because they expected about 80 new biographies but in the end, they got 264 while 100 others were improved which exceeded the total of 400 biographies.
On July 23, the top three winners of the Wikigap challenge received vouchers worth Frw 150,000, Frw 80,000 and Frw 70,000, respectively.
Ndahiro said they were going to offer capacity building sessions to the winners so that they are fully equipped to go and teach others.
He added, “We intend to train more people so that we can come together to bridge the information gap that exists online.”
Winners speak out
Protais Uwayezu, who came in first, created 37 articles about women which include Mathilde MukantabanaRwandan ambassador to the United States and Marie Thérèse Mukamulisa, judge at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
He is happy not only to have won the challenge, but also to have contributed to bridging the gender gap on the internet.
“Taking the initiative to write about a footballer, a politician or a designer makes me happy because I inspire many young girls. When they read about these people on Wikipedia, they realize that it is possible for a woman to achieve great things,” he said.
Uwayezu is set to continue updating articles about people he has written about, including women, as their information may change over time.
His goal is to continue helping people find information about Rwandans and things related to the country on Wikipedia.
Rosine Igirimpuhwe, who came second, has created 36 articles about women which include Claire Karekezi, Rwanda’s first female neurosurgeon and Beatha Mukakamanzi, a popular Rwandan actress, in English and Kinyarwanda.
Throughout the process, she learned that Rwandan women have done and are doing excellent jobs in different sectors that make up the country’s economy and that women empowerment was kissed.
“I also realized that Rwanda has many CEOs at the head of different public and private institutions that I did not know. It’s an example of a woman being capable even though some people still think she doesn’t. It also showed me that I still have a lot of steps to go. Like how I write about other women, I want someone else to write about me in the future,” she said.
Pacific Gatete, who came third, created 34 Kinyarwanda articles on women that include Ornella Umutoni, a model and fashion designer and Aline Umutoni who plays for the national volleyball team.
During the process, he was inspired by their accomplishments and their stories of how they succeeded, especially those who are still young.
“It motivated me and gave me confidence to move forward and achieve my goals. I am working hard so that I can win the challenges ahead, thus making a great contribution to the presentation of Rwandans on Wikipedia,” a- he declared.
Speaking about the importance of creating content in Kinyarwanda, he said, “It is important to add Kinyarwanda pages about women on Wikipedia. They are still very few in number and it is difficult to get more information about them in the newspapers. What I do is research using different online resources and create articles from them. This way I know that I am also promoting the language.