Why Wiki Loves Women
In the ITU’s 2019 report, 4.1 billion people (just over 53% of the global population) are online. This represents a 5.3% increase since 2018 and means that 3.6 billion people are not connected to the Internet. This is despite 96% of the global population living within reach of a mobile signal. Most of the unconnected people live in Least Developed Countries (LDC), where 80% of the population is offline. In 2019, Africa’s internet penetration was at 39.3 % (the world’s lowest).
Internet access for women lags behind men in almost two-thirds of countries worldwide. Overall, in 2019, the proportion of all women using the Internet globally is 48%, compared with 58% of all men. Between 2013 and 2019, the gender gap hovered near zero in the Americas and has been shrinking in Europe. However, in the Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, and Africa, the gender gap has been on the increase.
In Africa, the internet penetration rate drops to 33.8% for men and 22.6% for women. Other research has found that women living in urban poor communities are 50% less likely to use the internet than men.
Even where connectivity exists, we need to be more creative in addressing critical issues like affordability of service, cost of handsets, and lack of digital skills and literacy to enable more people – and especially women – to participate and flourish in the digital economy.”
– Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau
Analysis of these statistics indicate the following barriers to Internet use:
- A lack of digital skills
- A lack of meaningful and interesting content (subjects that women are interested in or relate to, e.g. local issues, health,)
- A lack of content that represents their experience (e.g. expert women as thought leaders, stereotypical portrayal, etc.)
- A lack of cultural considerations (local context, stories and languages).
I am also excited to provide our mentees with different avenues to use technology to amplify their voice.”
It’s fired us up to look forward to the work to be done on women in politics and governance in Nigeria.”
The consequences of the digital gender divide are numerous. Lack of access to information by women becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. If women do not see themselves represented online with stories that are in their language and relevant to their culture, they are less likely to see themselves as capable of contributing. Further, without inspiring women being showcased on local media, many women will not be inspired to follow similar pathways. Leaving nobody behind is a central precept of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Only 12% of biographies in sub-Saharan Africa on Wikipedia are about women (more can be read here). The Wiki Loves Women initiative was founded in 2016 to address this on-going situation by bridging two significant knowledge gaps – women and Africa – in terms of accessible, online content that features or celebrates women, and content authored by women to share their experiences and inspirations.
Since its inception, Wiki Loves Women innovates to create global opportunities for women to seize their own agency and fight the bias online by contributing factual information to open knowledge platforms. In doing so, they celebrate the pivotal roles that women play in their country’s political, economic, scientific, cultural and heritage landscape through content where women add to and can read their own experiences, cultures and aspirations reflected.