New Delhi, 8 March 2019: Today, in celebration of International Women’s Day UNESCO New Delhi jointly with the Wikimedia Foundation, UN Women and the Embassy of Sweden organized an event under its global #WIKI4WOMEN initiative to create, enrich or translate, Wikipedia profiles of women. Held simultaneously in UNESCO Paris and other UNESCO Field Offices (Bangkok, Almaty, Cairo, Lima, and Buenos Aires) the edit-a-thon is meant to honor those women who have excelled in the fields of education, science, culture, social and human sciences, or communication and information.
The New Delhi edit-o-thon was the only multilingual event and was conducted in 11 Indian languages, including English and Hindi. It was attended by over 80 participants including UNESCO and UN staff, partners, and representatives of civil society, and students. With hands-on training from the Wikimedia team, over 50 new profiles of women were created in one day.
Eric Falt, UNESCO New Delhi Director in his opening remarks briefly spoke about the UNESCO #WIKI4WOMEN initiative and said: “Despite the tremendous advances made by women over the past two decades in the public, private and other sectors, women’s appearances in the print media, and on radio and television, have risen from 17% to a mere 24% between 1995 and 2015. An equally telling statistic is that only 17% of all biographical profiles on Wikipedia are of women.”
Talking about the Swedish contribution, Gautam Bhattacharyya, Minister Counselor and Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Sweden in New Delhi, informed that Swedish embassies in 54 countries have organized similar events, resulting in more than 13,000 edited articles in 30 languages.”
Such collaborative efforts are expected to increase the visibility of women and their extraordinary accomplishments. Throughout the world, women continue to make significant contributions to society, but they remain nearly invisible in the digital sphere. Although more than 25,000 Wikipedia profiles are created every day, only a small percentage of biographies written is about women. With the active participation of all stakeholders, this trend can be reversed. Thus, by writing the stories of overlooked women, gender equality can ultimately be achieved.
UNESCO considers gender equality as a fundamental human right, a building block for social justice and an economic necessity. It is a critical factor for the achievement of all internationally agreed development goals, as well as a goal, in and of itself.