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Wiki Women for Women Well-Being: An Initiative to Bridge the Gender Gap in the Wikimedia Community

Posted by Nitesh Gill and Shruti Anandan at Dec 28, 2020 02:58 PM |
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WWWW is a project which focused on bridging the female related content gap on Indic Wikimedia communities. The idea of WWWW was given by Dr. Manavpreet Kaur, who worked with other women leaders from different communities and made a plan to engage with the editors for this project. CIS-A2K has started a series of interviews to introduce women with brilliant ideas and who have done contributions for Wikimedia and this is the first interview under the “Series of Interviews.” This Interview was done by Nitesh Gill.

WWWW logo

Image Source: Wiki Women for Women Wellbeing logo. 30 September 2018. Author: Satdeep Gill

 

“The Wiki Women for Women Well-Being (WWWW) event proved that women should be recognized as leaders, as they can plan, design, run, and report a project as large as WWWW. We haven’t seen any other volunteer lead event bring so many communities together. Women are growing as leaders and will continue doing so.” - Dr. Manavpreet Kaur

Dr. Manavpreet Kaur started her journey as a Wikimedian in 2015 by participating in the Wikipedia Asian Month. Since then, she has participated and organized events such as  WikiConference India 2016, Wiki Women for Women Well-being (“WWWW”), Syberthon, and Women’s Train the Trainer workshop. Dr. Manavpreet is a free knowledge enthusiast and a believer of education for enlightenment. She focuses her efforts on designing and facilitating programs to include more women in leadership roles in the Wikimedia community. Through a Q&A session with Dr. Manavpreet, CIS-A2K attempted to capture her experience of designing the WWWW event. 

Q&A:

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us Dr. Manavpreet.  

We want to start off by asking you, when was the first time you thought of WWWW ?

The event was proposed during the Wiki Advanced Training at Ranchi in 2018. This was initially planned to be a month long edit-a-thon for women by women where different Indian Communities and Maithili Communities of Nepal come together for a joint cause of creating content related to women’s health issues and also to explore women’s leadership opportunities in Wikimedia projects. Through WWWW, we attempted to train some interested women Wkimedians of different communities for outreach activities by guiding and supporting them to organize the event in their respective communities. We aimed to explore and promote women’s leadership in different languages, thus helping to bridge the gender gap along with the accomplishment of content creation.

What was the motivation behind this initiative?

I had met many women Wikimedia editors at various events and training. I realised we never took initiatives to build women’s leadership and women centric projects. The team of WWWW realised that the most important thing was to raise awareness on women’s health concerns as we all had some shared experiences that made us realise the need. 

What was the objective of facilitating WWWW?

We had the following objectives in mind when we designed the event:

  • To promote content creation relating to women’s physical and social well-being in different languages

  • To build women’s leadership and women centric projects

  • To guide new women editors to lead projects and take ownership while creating information about women’s well-being.

  • To train women Wikimedians of different communities to conduct outreach activities by supporting them to organize events in their respective communities. 

How did you prepare for this event?

A group of interested women Wikimedians was created for online discussions, time to time updates and task management. The discussions started in the month of July 2018. Different language communities were contacted to join the program. A total of 11 languages participated. We had Netha Hussain from the Malayalam community in the team but we could not have Malayalam as a participating language community because of the Kerala floods that year. 

In August, the representatives from every community were asked to fill a google form and a budget was planned on the basis of their submissions. The draft message was created in English and translated to Indic Languages. The same message was then floated in the mailing lists. It was also posted on village pump of different participating languages. The list of articles was finalised after discussion with Diptanshu from WikiMed and Dr Rajender Prabhune from Marathi Wiki Community. Dr James Heilman also suggested a list of 107 articles.

How did you communicate and share the plan with communities and co-organisers?

We created a Facebook page and group for internal discussions. We organized hangout calls and hundreds of individual calls to discuss the progress and next steps. We also prepared a meta page for transparent updates and information sharing. The language project pages were created and posted on the village pump and on our mailing lists multiple times. We posted on off-wiki channels as well and sent out individual messages. Finally, we also reached out to Wikimedia Medicine to identify the priority topics. As a part of the edit-a-thon, several offline events were also organised.

Please tell us a little about the co-organisers of the project. How did you choose and contact them?

I reached out to different affiliates (contacts I knew) to identify the new women Wikimedians who might benefit from the training and who will be willing to work on a cumulative project. As women kept on joining, we used their network to identify the language leads. Women who were a part of the team from the very beginning, who were involved in planning, discussions, decision making, organizing and reporting were identified as Organizers and the supporting community members as Co-Organizers. Considering the capacity building aspect, only women were Leads (Organizers) but there was no such condition imposed for co-organizers.

How was your overall experience conducting this event?

It was our first experience and it was amazing in so many ways. I believe everyone was a star performer but in different sections -- some rocked the awareness campaigns, getting expert speakers, awareness videos, scalable vector graphics, articles or partnership. The communities were also generally supportive. This event proved that women should be recognized as leaders, as they can plan, design, run, and report a project as large as WWWW. We haven’t seen any other volunteer lead event bring so many communities together. Women are growing as leaders and will continue doing so.

What were some of the challenges that you experienced while facilitating the event?

We experienced a few challenges as it was the first time that we facilitated this event. These challenges definitely served as learning experiences which we will reflect on moving forward. 

Some of the challenges we experienced were related to: 

Participation: 

  • We tried working with medical students, but every institute that initially agreed to collaborate couldn't do it because of mid-term exams of the students.

  • Some of the leads were new Wikimedians who had relatively less knowledge of wiki and different projects. Also, they didn't know the fellow Wikimedians from their community much which acted as a hindrance in planning an offline event.

  • Participants sometimes did not check the messages posted to their social media accounts.  An attempt will be made to engage people in on-wiki discussions rather than forming any other group.

Content: 

  • Anticipating the challenges relating to the nature of the content, the team decided to expand the theme from women’s physical well-being to social well-being.

  • However, it was difficult to get participants for the program because the medical terms and topics were difficult for them to comprehend. Participants were facing issues to write about them since the nature of the subject was also sensitive. Many Wikimedians were not comfortable with the idea of working on the articles listed because of the complexity of the subject and the limited understanding of information provided.

  • The guidelines fixed for the article quality were not easy to work on but we do not regret the decision because the article should at least cover the basics of a concern.

Logistical : 

  • It is sometimes difficult to keep individuals from different regions in loop and that's where they miss the pace with which other communities progress. 

  • Timely record maintenance could have been better. There were delays in grant release that affected the way things were planned and the dashboard was faulty for some languages.

  • The clash of dates of the event with Hockey edit-a-thon by the Odia community affected the WWWW edit-a-thon. The second iteration of Project Tiger was also planned around WWWW which resulted in less participation and comparatively more effort investment to get participants for our event. 

What is the future plan? Is there going to be a WWWW 2.0? 

Not in October, but the conversations have started. 

What is your vision for WWWW 2.0?

More editor participation, more engagement, new women editors, continuous future cycles.

Anything else you want to share with us?

I hope I soon have updates on next WWWW :)

 

For more information about WWWW, click here

 

 

 

 

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