WikiWomen: an Erasmus+ Programme for Minority Languages and Gender Equality

Women have been marginalized and silenced within the canon of knowledge for centuries. Today women remain underrepresented on Wikipedia. Correcting Wikipedia’s diversity imbalance represents an “incredibly important priority” to the Wikimedia Foundation. 

In a parallel struggle, minority languages have often been side-lined from mainstream knowledge sources. Today many minority languages are under threat from larger, more dominant languages. To preserve these languages, they need to stay relevant in the digital age.

The WikiWomen Erasmus+ Project seeks to address these intertwined concerns by using Wikipedia as an educational tool for change and a means to bridge these gaps. 

The WikiWomen Project: Cross-Cultural Collaboration for Gender Equality and Minority Languages

The collaborative effort unites schools, Wikipedia foundations (including Wikimedia Community Ireland) and language organisations in Europe to use Wikipedia as a tool to teach digital literacy, social engagement, and language skills. Currently, students from Gaeltacht regions in Ireland, the Basque region of Spain, and Friesland in the Netherlands are actively participating in the project.

The project aims to teach students in minority language communities how to write Wikipedia articles in their own languages about women who are not represented in the online encyclopedia. This means that students are actively engaging with their minority language to showcase how women have shaped the world around us (often without due credit or accolade). The dual goal is to redress gender imbalance on Wikipedia while simultaneously contributing to the online presence of minority languages in the digital realm. 

“It’s about two forms of emancipation: the emancipation of smaller languages and the emancipation of women.”

Wikimedia Community Ireland set to Welcome the Partners to Dublin Port 

The WikiWomen project held its second transnational meeting and first Wikithon in Monaghan, Ireland. The upcoming Partners Meeting will also be held in Dublin at the end of October. Following the meeting, the schools and partners will gather in San Sebastian early next spring and then Freisland to follow.

These meetings are chances to develop learning resources and toolkits whilst also wonderful opportunities for cross-cultural exchange. This is a fundamental part of the mission of the Erasmus+ program of the European Union, who are subsidising the project. 

The educational materials being piloted are designed for secondary school students and can be adapted for other age groups. They are designed to help students to develop an understanding of why smaller languages are important, and reflect on the way women are represented in history.

The project will create tangible products or “results” which help achieve its goals and leave lasting tools which can continue to be used by educators even when the project is over.

As Wikipedia CEO stated, “If our vision is a world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge, then all knowledge has to be written by all people, which means that it has to represent all people” and the WikiWomen Erasmus+ Project is certainly having a role to play in this on a multitude of levels. 

A group of Partners for the WikiWomen Erasmus+ project gater by the sea in San Sebastien

The WikiWomen Erasmus+ partners gathered in San Sebastien to discuss using Wikipedia for gender equality and to promote minority languages online. (WikiWomen Erasmus+ proiektuaren prestaketa lanak Donostian, By Theklan, CC BY-SA 4.0)

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Categories: Programmes