Wikipedia edit-a-thon

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, the SIF17 team is proud to highlight a successful event that took place just recently at the Embassy of Sweden in New Delhi and the Swedish Institute in Stockholm to increase women’s participation on Wikipedia. 


The Embassy of Sweden in New Delhi hosted a Wikipedia edit-a-thon on Saturday, March 4 together with two Indian organizations: Feminism in India and Punjabi Wikimedians. The purpose of the event was to increase women’s representation on the world’s most visited online encyclopedia by publishing articles on persons that were hitherto missing.  Parallel to this, a similar event took place at the Swedish Institute in Stockholm, in collaboration with Wikimedia Sweden and Geek Girl Meetup. The theme of the Indian-Swedish collaboration was women in science and technology: #IndianWomenInScience.

Wikipedia gets 16 billion visitors each month, making it the 7th most visited website in the world. While it is an indispensable resource, the site also has problems with the issue of representation.  There are four times as many entries about men than women. Behind the scene, the gender balance is even worse with only 9% of the editors being female, 1% trans people and the remaining 90% men. The figures for India are even lower. Non-Western and low-skilled editors are also rare.

Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization behind Wikipedia, has identified this issue as a problem area and work actively for change. One approach to solving the issue is by hosting so called edit-a-thons where volunteers get together to publish articles.

Foto 2017-03-04 11 05 17

Feminism in India and Punjabi Wikimedians, gathered 25 young volunteers at the Embassy of Sweden for such a wiki-workshop. Among the volunteers were experienced Wikimedians, but the room was mainly filled with first-timers. Japleen Pasricha, founder of Feminism in India, introduced the concept of edit-a-thons and the reasons behind wanting to increase women’s representation online. Satdeep Gill, from Punjabi Wikimedians, explained the do’s and don’ts of Wikipedia-editing for the participants.

The volunteers each chose one or several Indian women in science and technology who were deemed missing from Wikipedia. Afterwards, it was research time, as the participants trawled the internet for news articles, e-books and video clips about “their” scientist. Some even reached out on Twitter.

Thanks to the volunteers in the room, Wikipedia has now been enriched with more than thirty new entries on Indian and Swedish women scientists in four different languages: Malayalam, Punjabi, English and Swedish. Among the Indian women in science and technology who now have brand new Wikipedia-profile are space scientist Anuradha TK, known for heading several of ISRO’s satellite programs, Shawna Pandya, multi-talented doctor and astronaut who also happens to be a taekwondo world champion, Sampa Das, distinguished bio-technologist and one of the leading experts on agricultural biotechnology, and pathologist Poonam Salotra, who carries out important research on infectious diseases and has developed diagnostic tests and vaccines.

After hours of focused work, the volunteers’ attention shifted to a big screen where the Swedish sister event at the Swedish Institute in Stockholm had just started.

Foto 2017-03-04 16 17 12 (2)

The Ambassador of Sweden to India, Mr. Harald Sandberg, hosted a reception in the residence afterwards: “It was a great pleasure to have the opportunity to host this event. We are always looking for new ways of implementing Sweden’s feminist foreign policy and this was a particularly fun and concrete idea.”

See some of the newly created pages below:

This text was written by Marcus Holknekt at the Embassy of Sweden in New Delhi, with editing by SIF.