Charter Africa and African Wikipedian Alliance launch EmpowerHer to Amplify Women’s Voices on Wikipedia and in Africa

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African women are making strides as politicians, journalists, and human rights defenders despite facing barriers that impede their active involvement. Research on Gender bias on Wikipedia  however, indicates that their stories are often told in male-dominated spaces where significant aspects of their achievements are omitted and information is distorted. While Wikipedia grants anyone access to edit articles on the platform and data on Wikidata, the inadequate female editor representation renders it as a male-dominated platform. The low levels of female representation in contribution and content on Wikipedia and Wikidata has left a number of women-related stories untold as reported by Knape (2022) in the article on Lack of Women on Wikipedia

This assertion is no different from the findings on Humaniki which provides statistics about the gender gap in the content of Wikimedia projects. A thorough search on this platform from statistics gathered on the 29th of April revealed that there were 834,000 articles on female-related content across different Wikimedia projects compared to 3.6 million articles on male-related content across these platforms. On English Wikipedia, only 19% of the content is about females, while 80% is male content and 0.12% are about other genders. Similarly, the French Wikipedia has 20% female content and 80% male content. Wikidata statistics show that only 33% of the data are about females while the majority 67% are about males. 

To address this challenge, the Gender Organising Team of the Wikimedia Foundation has pioneered the Celebrate Women Campaign in solidarity with International Women’s Day 2024 efforts and in alignment with the objectives of the ChangetheStats initiative, which aims to renew efforts to ensure the representation of women on Wikipedia and its sister projects.

In support of this initiative, the African Wikipedian Alliance (AWA), in partnership with Charter Africa, has launched the EmpowerHer Campaign 2024. This community-driven initiative seeks to inspire inclusion and amplify the voices of African women in politics, journalism, and government on Wikipedia and Wikidata.

Anglophone EmpowerHer 2024 Campaign Poster

The pilot implementation which ran for a month from 22 March to 23 April, held 6 training sessions led by 4 trainers and 2 reviewers. The sessions were attended by 81 participants from the Anglophone and Francophone Edit-a-thon communities, with a total of 225 articles and items created, 535 references added with 36, 200 article views.

The EmpowerHer Campaign Virtual launch event in 22nd April 2024 

Recruitment and Training Effort

With the support of the campaign product team, the EmpowerHer campaign witnessed an increase in participation from Wikimedians who had previously edited articles related to African Women in politics, journalism, and government on Wikipedia using the event invitation test tool. Through AWA’s participation in the Event Invitations Consultation Hours, the EmpowerHer campaign was added to the test table to use the Event Invitation system to recruit participants. The tool generated a list of 256 editors with high or medium scores from past contributions on Wikipedia and Wikimedia. During the campaign period, 94 editors received invites using massenmail. The campaign attracted 103 participants using the Event registration tool while a total of   81 participants (49 Anglophone and 32 Francophone) joined the dashboard. 

Additionally, AWA employed the past voluntary services of 6 experienced Wikimedians with at least 4 years experience who have previously trained at past AWA bi-weekly and monthly meetups. These Wikimedians include Muib Shefiu, Barakat Adegboye, James Rhoda  from Nigeria, Emmanuella G. Kakou from Côte d’Ivoire, Minette Lontsie from Cameroon, and Aboubacar Keïta from Guinea Conakry. 

The trainers together with Charter Africa effectively completed the campaign deliverables on training which included a virtual launch, 6 online training sessions on editing Wikipedia and Wikidata, and office hours for both Anglophone and Francophone participants for a month between 22nd March to 23rd April.

The EmpowerHer Wikidata office hour session

Milestones Achieved

The campaign aimed to empower new and existing members of the AWA community with the on-wiki and off-wiki skills needed to close the gender gap on African women in politics, journalism, and government on Wikipedia and Wikidata. The following milestones were achieved:

  1. Creation of a project documentation on the EmpowerHer Edit-a-thon meta page: This provided participants with detailed information about the campaign which included event description, deliverables timelines, and resources and suggested articles.
  2. Recruitment of  Trainers: The campaign recruited 2 Wikipedian editors, 2 Wikidata editors, and 2 reviewers each from the Anglophone and Francophone Africa Wikimedian community who led 6 training sessions and reviewed participants’ contributions at the end of the campaign.
  3. Creation of promotional materials for online and social  media awareness: The campaign created social media promotional materials (banners & posters) which garnered over 1,783 post views across Telegram, WhatsApp, Google groups, and Event registration mailbox.
  4. Participant Recruitment: The campaign recruited a total of 103 participants from both the Anglophone and Francophone communities. 95 participants were invited using tools from the Campaigns product team based on their past contributions to articles in the Anglophone and Francophone worklist. The other 8 participants  were recruited through campaign publicity efforts including posts in the community WhatsApp and Telegram groups.
  5. Community Building: The edit-a-thon provided a platform for participants to connect and cultivate a sense of community engagement. Through collaborative editing, shared learning experiences, and mutual support, new and existing AWA members enhanced their community relationships and forged networks that would extend beyond the event, paving the way for future collaborations and ongoing community engagement among members.
  6. Capacity Building: Participants were trained on how to edit on Wikipedia and Wikidata to increase visibility of the identified topics in line with the platforms’ core content policies and notability guidelines. Collectively, 147 participants attended all the sessions hosted including the virtual launch, 6 online training sessions and 2 office hour sessions.
  7. Article and Item Creation and Improvement: The campaign recorded 2 programs, 81 editors, 55.5K words added, 535 references added, 36.2K article views, 87 articles edited, 52 articles created, and 882 Commons uploads as recorded in the dashboard statistics. Additionally, participants created 225 new articles and items, which can be viewed on the article list table on the campaign meta page.
  8. Prizes and Awards for Top Contributors: At the end of Campaign 8 participants namely, ⁠E82maa, ⁠Hermivan, ⁠Farida Takenzo, ⁠Monesthe, ⁠Achiri Bitamsimli, Faldi00, ⁠Meritkosy, and ⁠Warmglow from the Francophone and Anglophone communities emerged as top contributors. The 1st top contributor was awarded a $100 prize, the 2nd top contributor received $75, while 3rd and 4th top contributors received $50 and $25 respectively.

Facilitators’ Testimonials : Experience and Impact

Here are some quotes from some of the trainers and reviewers who shared their experiences and views on the programme’s impact:

 “As an experienced trainer who has focused primarily on creating articles for academics and scientists in Africa, it had never come to my mind to research gender differences. However, during the training, I came to know about the wide gender gap on Wikipedia and the urgent need to close the gap. I also got to meet new enthusiastic editors who are highly motivated to contribute to Wikimedia Foundation projects. Editors that are intrinsically motivated and very eager to learn and contribute.”   

Muib Shefiu – Trainer, Nigeria                   


“As I reflect on my involvement as an Anglophone Community reviewer for the EmpowerHer Edit-a-thon 2024, I am filled with gratitude and pride. The dedication, enthusiasm, and collaborative spirit demonstrated by participants have been truly inspiring, reaffirming the transformative potential of community-driven initiatives in driving positive change and knowledge dissemination.

While the edit-a-thon may be concluding, the spirit of collaboration, learning, and empowerment will continue to resonate, inspiring future initiatives, fostering community growth, and leaving a lasting impact on Wikipedia’s content landscape.”           Barakat Adegboye – Reviewer, Nigeria

“Over the course of the programme’s four weeks, I experienced a vibrant atmosphere of mutual learning and cooperation. Both trainers and participants had the priceless chance to teach and learn from each other. The program fostered a culture of ongoing learning and development, offering a dynamic forum for sharing concepts, perceptions, and knowledge. 

Their sincere desire to participate spurred us as trainers to provide the necessary materials and support. This created a symbiotic relationship where the enthusiasm of one group empowered and motivated the other, leading to new levels of involvement and participation.”   

                  James Rhoda – Trainer, Nigeria

“This enriching journey as a Wikipedia trainer for the EmpowerHer Edit-a-thon 2024 taught me that continuous training should be an integral part of our daily lives as Wikimedians. Every opportunity is a chance to learn something new, as long as we are present. When everyone shares their knowledge, we collectively increase our understanding. The Wikidata training helped me better understand editing on Wikidata and how to simplify the training for others.

The EmpowerHer Edit-a-thon 2024 initiative showed me that efforts are being made to equip women and girls with the tools they need to produce content on Wikipedia and Wikidata, focusing on women in Africa.”

 Emmanuella G. Kakou – Trainer, Côte d’Ivoire

Strategies for Achieving Outcomes

To ensure maximum participation and engagement during the EmpowerHer campaign, AWA implemented the following strategies:

  1. Clear guidance: A list of suggested articles and items was made available to the participants via the event metapage and on the Francophone and Anglophone outreach dashboards, for easy identification of areas where their contributions were needed. Additionally, the trainers held a series of online training sessions and office hours to provide guidance and support for the participants throughout the campaign. Recordings of each training session in English and in French were also uploaded on the event page for participants to easily access and refer to.
  2. Publicity: The event was promoted using the event invitation system and e-posters on various Wikimedia communities communication channels such as Telegram, WhatsApp, mailing lists, and Google groups to create awareness and attract a larger number of participants.
  3. Ongoing communication: Weekly updates about the project were shared with the participants through the Anglophone and Francophone AWA dedicated WhatsApp groups and the event registration mailbox. This regular communication kept the participants informed and motivated throughout the preparation and implementation phase.
  4. Personalised support: Participants who needed extra support were followed up individually by trainers who provided them with one-on-one support and assistance to create their accounts, set up their user pages, join the event dashboard, and contribute to the campaign. This personalised support helped participants overcome any technical or logistical hurdles they might have encountered.   

Areas for Improvement

The project made significant progress in creating new articles and items about African women in politics, journalism, and government on Wikipedia and Wikidata. However, the campaign saw more participation from experienced editors, which is attributed to the high rate of invitations sent to participants who had received high or medium scores for previously contributing to similar topics on Wikipedia, as reported by the event invitation system. While this resulted in the creation of higher-quality articles and items for the campaign, it did not meet the campaign target of recruiting 20 new editors, as most participants were either intermediate or experienced. To improve the second phase of this campaign, the campaign team will prioritise partnerships and engagement with existing women-led organisations that are not familiar with content creation on Wikipedia. Focus will be on training and skilling members of these organisations to contribute to this campaign effectively.


The EmpowerHer2024 campaign, spearheaded by the African Wikipedian Alliance (AWA) in partnership with Charter Africa, has made remarkable strides in amplifying the voices of African women in politics, journalism, and government on Wikipedia and its sister projects. Through a concerted effort to address gender bias, the campaign successfully created and improved a substantial number of articles and items, bringing greater visibility to the achievements of African women.

Despite the campaign’s successes, including high-quality contributions from experienced editors, it also highlighted areas for improvement. The predominance of experienced editors underscored the need for a more balanced approach to recruitment, with a stronger focus on engaging new editors. Moving forward, the campaign aims to forge new partnerships with women-led organisations unfamiliar with Wikipedia content creation, guiding them through a structured pedagogical process to enhance their participation and contributions.

The EmpowerHer 2024 campaign has improved and added to the content on Wikipedia and Wikidata while fostering a sense of community and collaboration among participants. The trainers’ testimonials  and the statistics on contributions recorded, reflect the impact of this initiative and highlight the importance of continuous learning and mutual support. The lessons learnt and relationships built during this campaign will serve as a foundation for ongoing efforts to close the gender gap and ensure that the stories of African women are told with the depth and accuracy they deserve.

The campaign is committed to continuous improvement and community engagement and is poised to inspire greater participation and impact in its next phase to contribute to a more inclusive and representative Wikimedia ecosystem. Looking ahead, AWA remains committed to sustaining the momentum generated by the EmpowerHer Campaign and continuing its efforts to amplify the voices and contributions of African women on Wikimedia platforms.

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