WikiGap 2023 in Ukrainian Wikipedia – 740 articles, progress for Ukrainian women in science and an opportunity to meet in-person

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A version of this article was first published in the CEE Newsletter

Since 2018 Ukrainian Wikipedia has been among the most active participant communities of WikiGap, the global initiative designed to improve representation of women on Wikipedia and bridge the gender gap. Over the past five years, around 350 people joined the challenge by creating and improving close to 4,000 articles about women in the Ukrainian language.

In 2023, Wikimedia Ukraine organized the challenge on Ukrainian Wikipedia once again, with the help of our long-term partners – Swedish Embassy in Ukraine, National Democratic Institute, and UNFPA Ukraine.

WikiGap 2023 in Kyiv (photo: Vitalii Petrushko, CC0)

The online campaign ran for close to three weeks in March. We invited everyone to join and create or improve an article about a notable woman. As an incentive to join – apart from contributing to the mission of bridging the gender gap on Wikipedia – we’re sending souvenirs for everyone who created / improved at least two articles within the campaign.

As a result, 90 Wikipedians joined the challenge in 2023; collectively they created 704 new articles about women and improved 38 existing ones. (80 participants are eligible to receive souvenirs for their participation, having worked on at least two articles).

We’re especially pleased to see that three articles received the “good article” status. One of them is about prominent Ukrainian biologist Valentyna Radzymovska, who was erased from the Soviet history books but is remembered in independent Ukraine. “I participate in WikiGap regularly because I believe that the low representation of women in Wikipedia and in the media space is a problem that needs attention. The topics of women in science, women’s education of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and women’s organizations are especially close to me”, says user Brunei, the article’s lead author and a biologist himself.

Within WikiGap 2023 we supported two offline events. The main one took place in Kyiv, where 17 people came on a Saturday to work collectively on contributing to Wikipedia around WikiGap topics. Besides, Wikimedia Ukraine’s volunteer Daryna (user held a training session for Ukrainians abroad in Gdańsk, Poland, gathering 6 people.

WikiGap 2023 in Kyiv (photo: Vitalii Petrushko, CC0)

A few insights from organizing the campaign this year and before:

  • Promotion on social media is useful for building broader awareness but not so effective for attracting actual participants. The most effective communications tools for bringing new people are the CentralNotice banner and communication with participants of previous similar campaigns via MassMessage.
  • People are hungry for in-person communication after three years of the pandemic and the war, so it was quite beneficial to meet offline – both to work on WikiGap articles directly but also as a tool for community building. Unfortunately, because of the war, the scale of offline events this year was much smaller than it used to be before 2020.
  • It’s highly useful for us to have long-term partners. While we at Wikimedia Ukraine do most of the legwork in terms of organizing the campaign on Wikipedia and promoting it among community members, the partners are quite helpful in spreading broader public awareness about the cause, as well as by providing material help (such as funding for offline events).

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