Verksamhetsberättelse 2020/Story: Experimenting with global partnerships to combat gender imbalance

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In this Story we are focusing on how we have used the massively successful WikiGap campaign to engage with strong international actors, such as UN agencies and large civil society organizations. WikiGap opens new doors, but we have intentionally worked to expand any new partnership to also include other aspects, such as working with the partners to help them share their content, supporting our communication efforts or work on joint applications for project grants.

For three years in a row, we have been running the WikiGap Campaign together with the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At the start of the 2020 Campaign, more than 35,000 articles about women had been created or edited as part of the campaign, combining the efforts of more than 3,000 editors in more than 35 different languages. At the end of 2020, the total number had increased to more than 5,000 editors, creating or improving more than 50,000 articles.

The core of the campaign are all the events organized across the world on or in connection to International Women’s Day in March; events co-organized by Swedish embassies together with local Wikimedia affiliates and civil society partners. So far, however, these partnerships have been dependent on local initiatives and connections. While this is of course positive, we are working this year to add a layer of global partnerships on top of that. We have finalized a partnership with UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund; we involved UN Human Rights in the WikiGap Challenge, an online competition organized in conjunction with the campaign; and we have started the conversation with other UN Agencies, civil society with global reach and other organizations that want to join the campaign as well.

WikiGap participants in Yerevan, Armenia.

This has the potential of solving a problem which has been increasing in magnitude as the campaign has grown, namely the fact that Swedish embassies only exist in a limited number of countries. By involving other institutions, organizations and partners with global reach, we can both scale up the partnerships, and enable affiliates in more countries to join in on the campaign.

A further potential of this kind of partnerships is further variations in the theme. The WikiGap Challenge this year had, due to the partnership with UN Human Rights, a focus on women active in human rights; UN Human Rights 20 proposed women that there should be articles about, and after the Challenge, 338 articles were created about these women, in a total of 38 languages. This is a fairly straightforward way for new partners to engage in our work and, we hope, an entry point to a deeper understanding and involvement with the Wikimedia movement.

By adding other UN Agencies, civil society organizations and partners, we can work more strategically to fill the gaps we know exist, and at the same time enable the campaign to grow. We are using the large interest to join the campaign to also initiate work together in other areas. For example we got in contact with UNFPA because of WikiGap but ended up working with them around COVID-19 due to the major implications the pandemic has on the world. We are also working on developing concepts for how the IGOs can share relevant content that they have, which is either connected to WikiGap or other topic areas.

We also discussed potential partnerships around WikiGap with a number of civil society organizations to join us in organizing the events and engage their members both online and offline. Examples include the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Rights (RFSL) and World Pulse, a women-led, global social network for social change. Hopefully, one long term outcome of this is the potential to apply for further external grants and funding, a work which has been started, to continue to scale up WikiGap further.