Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/2019 Community Conversations/Diversity
What is your area of inquiry?
What is the current situation?
The world-wide effects of marginalization have left an imbalance in our collective history. Throughout history, power structures and dominance, have silenced diverse voices and created imbalance in our knowledge of the events and people who have shaped our world, as well as in the systems which we use to disseminate that knowledge. Common issues across all parts of the Wikimedia movement, though not limited to Wikimedia include, creation of content where male is the norm and any other gender identity is an exception, where indigenous customs and practices are excluded or analyzed from an “outsider” perspective, where colonized peoples’ experiences are represented as the same as those of their colonizers, where the experiences of people with disabilities, the aged, the LGBT community and other groups are represented as divergences from “normal” experience, etc.
According to World Wide Consortium, nearly 54 % of the some 10 million websites are written in English. This prevalence is tied to global socio-economic dictates and pervasiveness of the English language in Western culture. In consequence, participating in the Wikimedia movement requires advanced English (i.e. major Wikimedia events, mailing lists, governance bodies, etc). Languages that have significant numbers of speakers in the world (like Arabic, Spanish, and many others) are not proportionally represented within the Movement, in content or participation mechanisms. Most world languages do not produce academic papers, multimedia content, or even printed materials. Some languages exist only orally, while others though they may be written have no standard orthography. Low awareness of Wikipedia is also a complicated layer to this issue. In western nations, the awareness of Wikipedia is high amongst the internet population while the opposite is the case in emerging nations. Thus in both participation and content there is proportional representation to the awareness.
The results of these challenges have created wide recognition that there are gaps in both content and contributions by women -which is one of the most relevant due to many global efforts that have worked to make it visible and reduce it, indigenous people, communities from the global south, people who do not speak a major language, among others. These are problems common to all encyclopedias, textbooks and the writing down of history in general that have preceded the Wikimedia movement. Lack of equal access and opportunity continues to impact groups which have been marginalized as there is a lack of understanding of their cultures, history, and contributions, which in turn impacts their ability to fully participate in an open society.
Why this scope?
What are the key questions within the scope of the Working Group?
- According to 2018 statistics from Wikimedia Foundation’s research, in the United States and France, the awareness of Wikipedia is 87% and 84% respectively. In contrast; Mexico, Nigeria, India, Brazil and Iraq are spotting 53%, 48%, 40%, 39% and 25% respectively. The 2018 figures from developing countries are much improved, from more dire situations before the Wikipedia campaigns inspired by local Wikimedia communities in the last 2 years. For example, Nigeria used to have awareness rate of 23% in just 2017.