Online activists from over 20 countries spent the weekend uploading to Wikipedia the biographies of “women human rights defenders”—an unsung group whose efforts, campaigners say, have gone largely unrecognized by the international community, even as their work has improved the lives of marginalized people of all genders around the world.
A collaboration between Wikimedia—Wikipedia’s non-profit arm—and Amnesty International, the BRAVE:edit campaign defines women human rights defenders as both female human rights workers and people of all genders who fight oppression based on gender and sexuality.
According to Amnesty International, “The people who most frequently edit Wikipedia are usually white, European or North American, and male. The content tends to reflect their interests, so this is an opportunity to encourage more editors and more content about different identities to better reflect the world we live in.”
Only about 20 percent of biographical entries available to Wikipedia’s 1.4 billion daily users are about women, Amnesty reports.
“BRAVE:Edit hopes to fill this glaring gap,” said Guadalupe Marengo, head of Amnesty’s Global Human Rights Defenders Program. “These are stories of some truly inspirational women who have overcome huge obstacles and fought entrenched discrimination in defense of human rights. Activists from across the globe will be helping to bring them to a worldwide audience where they belong.”
A few of the women who the global editors planned to write biographical Wikipedia entries for, include:
- Radhya al-Mutawakel, co-founder of Yemen’s Mwatana Organization For Human Rights, who has addressed the UN Security Council about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen amid Saudi Arabia’s assault on the country, and called on countries including the U.S. to stop supplying arms to the Saudis.
- Marchu Girma, grassroots director for Women for Refugee Women, who has organized and maintained networks for women refugees around the world and has called on the #MeToo movement to address harassment and abuse faced by refugee women.
- Polly Harrar, founder of the Sharan Project, a UK-based charity dedicated to supporting South Asian women who are at risk due to forced marriage, honor-based abuse, domestic violence, and other conflicts.
“Working with Amnesty International’s global community is a chance for Wikimedia to reach out to new audiences to encourage them to become involved in the creation of knowledge about their identities and histories, and to make sure that women human rights defenders are given the importance and prominence they deserve online,” said John Lubbock of Wikimedia UK.