BengaluruS: 19 May 2018 12:34 pm
Wikipedia edit-a-thon shines spotlight on the unsung women defending human rights in India
Human rights activists and Wikipedia enthusiasts in Bengaluru are joining forces with others around the globe on 19 and 20 May 2018 to take part in a global edit-a-thon to shine a spotlight on extraordinary unsung women human rights defenders.
Brave:EDIT, a collaboration between Amnesty International and Wikimedia (Wikipedia’s non-profit organization), will see hundreds of volunteers from over 20 countries taking to the popular collaborative website to upload biographies of women human rights defenders.
Women human rights defenders are women, in all of their diversity, working on any human rights issue, and defenders of all genders working on rights related to gender and sexuality. The events aim to raise the profile of the amazing work done by these women, who are under-represented on Wikipedia’s pages.
“There are more than five and a half million entries in the English language version of Wikipedia alone, on the most disparate subjects. However, less than 20% of biographies are dedicated to women, with few devoted to the important work of human rights defenders, and even fewer to women human rights defenders,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Head of Amnesty International’s Global Human Rights Defenders Programme.
Brave:EDIT hopes to fill this glaring gap. These are stories of some truly inspirational women who have overcome huge obstacles and fought entrenched discrimination in defence of human rights. Activists from across the globe will be helping to bring them to a worldwide audience where they belong.
“In India and across the world, the work of women human rights defenders often breaks new ground, as they continue to challenge power and harmful social norms. However, these same norms mean women often face more discrimination than their male counterparts. The work of women human rights defenders is underrepresented and insufficiently recognised by mainstream society, policy makers and the media. Very little public information is available about the incredible work they do, and what exists is usually limited to specialised platforms, ” said Asmita Basu, Programmes Director, Amnesty Interational India.
According to John Lubbock, Communications Coordinator, from Wikimedia UK:
“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.”
Wikipedia is visited by 1.4 billion unique devices per month, but only a fraction of its users edit the content. Globally, only around 50% of people have access to the internet, and 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.
“It is hoped that after the edit-a-thon inspiring individuals such as Tongam Rina, Jagmati Sangwan and Manjula Pradeep will all have a place on Wikipedia”, added Asmita Basu.
Tongam Rina is a brave journalist based in Arunachal Pradesh, who has reported on sensitive subjects such as corruption, construction of dams, “extremism”, women’s rights and indigenous people’s rights. For many years, she was threatened and intimidated for her reporting. She was near-fatally shot in front of her office in 2012 but she returned to journalism after her recovery and is continuing her fight against corruption and illegal developmental activities.
Jagmati Sangwan is a Haryana-based activist fighting a brave battle against khap panchayats – unelected village councils, “honour killings” and female infanticide, and defending inter-caste marriages. She is a leader of the Haryana Janwadi Mahila Samiti (JMS) collective, which has around 50,000 women members. Along with the collective, she has conducted awareness campaigns across Haryana to mobilise women to resist crimes against them. The members of the collective face intimidation and threats, including instances of public shaming and being forced out of their homes by their families in the middle of the night. In 1985, with the support of the collective, she founded the Haryana unit of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), an independent organisation that aims to achieve democracy and equality.
Manjula Pradeep was the Executive Director of Navsarjan Trust, a grassroots Dalit rights organization based in Gujarat, which addresses issues of caste and gender based discrimination. She has been at the forefront of the movement pushing for the inclusion of women in the Dalit rights movement. She has also trained many Dalit activists, provided legal support and intervened in cases of sexual violence and caste-based atrocities, and campaigned for land reform and prohibition of manual scavenging.
The Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore is collaborating with Amnesty International India to organise Brave:EDIT. Amnesty International India will be uploading on Wikipedia, the profiles of women human rights defenders from different parts of India working on a range of issues. People from various backgrounds, who are interested in human rights, have volunteered to work with Amnesty International India to upload biographies of these and many such women human rights defenders, particularly those from marginalised sections, with the aim of highlighting their extraordinary work and achievements.
For more information please contact:Nazia Erum
Email: [email protected]