For the past five years, we brought together a collective of partners and friends from around the world to make images of women, especially black, brown, indigenous, trans and non-binary individuals available on Wikipedia and the broader internet. We are proud and grateful for the thousands of images the campaign brought online so far and all the events, reflections and interventions we have done through #VisibleWikiWomen.
We have come a long way but we are also aware that there is so much more to be done. For this 6th edition of the #VisibleWikiWomen campaign, we and our partners invite you to occupy the digital space, creating, sharing, and uploading open-licensed images of marginalized women and non-binary folks to Wikimedia Commons. Let’s combat online invisibility by creating a shared and collective feminist memory that celebrates the plurality of our bodies and identities.
Welcome to the #VisibleWikiWomen campaign 2023! Join all year long the 6th edition of the campaign.
Women’s knowledge and contributions to the world are invisible in many ways. When we look at women’s invisibility online, Wikipedia is a good proxy to explain why this is such a critical issue. Less than ¼ of Wikipedia biographies represent women. Many biographies of important and influential women don’t exist or are incomplete.
More often than not, women's biographies don’t have images. We estimate that less than 20% of Wikipedia articles of important women have pictures. Only 20% of the images that depict human beings on Wikimedia Commons represent women (according to https://humaniki.wmcloud.org).
When women’s faces are missing from Wikipedia, that invisibility spreads. Half a billion people read Wikipedia every month, and it is the 5th most visited website in the world. In other words, gaps on Wikipedia have a big impact on the broader internet.
- Whose Knowledge? co-founders began thinking about this campaign in 2017 with a group of Wikimedians from around the world.
- Sunshine Fionah Komusana is coordinating the 2023 #VisibleWikiWomen campaign with Whose Knowledge?.
The theme of the year
The theme for this 2023 campaign is #BodyPlurality #CuerposPlurales #CorposPlurais #Imizimba: Celebrating the uniqueness of our body sizes, shapes, and identities online.
This year’s campaign is a celebration of the many possibilities of womanhood, queer femininity, gender queerness and plural ways of existing on and offline. In a world shaped by coloniality, imperial capitalism, caste and attendant power structures, invisibility for non-white people is a fundamental part of our lived experiences. To paraphrase Ugandan feminist and author Professor Sylvia Tamale, those bodies that cannot be easily classified into the ‘normalized’ social categories that coloniality has constructed for us (that are not white, not thin, not heterosexual, not cis-gendered, not able-bodied) — or, as Elizabeth Reis aptly describes, “bodies in doubt” — belong to a very particular place in the world. That place is always on the margins, not to be seen or heard.
Unless it serves certain capitalist purposes that require commodification of non-white bodies, or feed stereotypical narratives on poverty or disease that are subject to hypervisibility, Black, brown, women and non-conforming people remain unseen in both online and physical spaces. We reflect on the history of colonial racialized exploitation and dehumanization of Black bodies, by bringing the story and experience of Sara Baartman, an enslaved indigenous southern African woman. Between 1810 and 1815, Sara was exhibited around western Europe - objectified through the colonial gaze by Europeans who saw her as a specimen for racist and sexual objectification, rather than as a human. We are also cognizant of the fact that these imposed colonial gender systems continue to police, dehumanize, and other us. Professor Tamale, in her book Decolonization and Afro-feminism, invites us to challenge the “coloniality of sex, gender, and sexuality” by juxtaposing the treatment of South African world champion athlete Caster Semenya by regional and world athletics’ regulatory bodies. Indian athlete Santhi Soundarajan experienced similar treatment a few years earlier. Their experiences in the sportsworld was marred with racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic violence in comparison to how the same institutions treated Michael Phelps, the Olympic gold swimming champion — a white cisgender heterosexual man from the United States. Semenya’s and Soundarajan cases are not isolated cases, as the history and present day Olympic sports are full of stories of instutionalized racist and gender dicrimination.
These power dynamics are reinforced through technology, which is often built upon the idealized normal body (male, cisgender, white, able-bodied, neurotypical, from the Global North), imposing devices and narratives of surveillance, control, and conformity – reinscribing and perpetuating marginalization.
We acknowledge that to exist online in the beautiful plurality of us is resistance to the colonial hegemony and its organizing systems of gender, race, sex, sexuality, and notions of womanhood. We celebrate all the ways our bodies have the possibility to hack patriarchy, racism, transphobia, classism, casteism, and colonialism.
Our #VisibleWikiWomxn campaign this year is:
- A nod to the expansiveness of our bodies - bodies that challenge the normalized categories of what it means to be human and a woman.
- A contribution to the many bodies of work centered on the issue of creating space to be seen in a world that erases, invisibilizes, and violates who is seen as different.
- A feminist corner of the internet that affirms our plural identities, sizes, shapes and scars.
Our plan for 2023
Our goal for this 6th edition of #VisibleWikiWomen is to bring 2500 images of women and non-binary individuals to Wikimedia Commons, the big multimedia library for all Wikimedia projects, including the +300 language versions of Wikipedia.
Once again we will be “Celebrating the colors of #VisibleWikiWomen” with a targeted effort to increase the images of influential Black, Brown, Indigenous, Trans women and Non-Binary that are being uploaded to Wikipedia as part of the #VisibleWikiWomen campaign.
To reach this goal, we invite you – women’s and feminist organizations, culture and memory institutions, Wikipedia editors, user groups, chapters, and anyone who would like to give the plurality of women and non-binary people the visibility and acknowledgment they deserve. We are excited to collaborate with previous year’s super amigxs and friends again and to welcome new partners from around the world.This year, we expect to expand and deepen our collaboration with partners in Africa.
How to participate?
You can join the #VisibleWikiWomen campaign by gathering and uploading quality images in the public domain, or under free license, to Wikimedia Commons under the VisibleWikiWomen category. These images could be photographs or drawings of women, as well as images of their work, with proper consent. Use the Upload Wizard and add the VisibleWikiWomen 2023 category to your uploads. Besides uploading images to Commons, you can also participate in the campaign by:
- Hosting or attending local events in your communities where photos can be taken or uploaded
- Releasing your existing photos of notable women under free license
- Creating illustrations and drawings
- Promoting and publicizing this project by spreading the word about it and using the hashtags #VisibleWikiWomen and #WomenofColors on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Co-organizing and hosting an online event with Whose Knowledge? to bring the campaign to your local communities
- Creating a feminist corner at your public events, by installing a #VisibleWikiWomen photobooth.
And probably so much more! We’d love to see you coming up with new ideas that make the most sense for you and your communities.
If you need extra support for participating in the campaign, please email us at visiblewikiwomen[at]whoseknowledge[dot]org.
How to get involved?
Here are some additional ways to support the #VisibleWikiWomen campaign:
- Help make our campaign multi-lingual by translating our Meta page, resources kit and the campaign pages of our website into different languages.
- Make lists of Wikipedia women biographies without images (by country, by occupation, by century, by activity) to raise awareness of the gender visual gap and create interesting challenges for participants.
- Write a new Wikipedia article inspired by an “orphan” women portrait (an image without an article) and use that image to illustrate it.
Spread the word
- Curate and share: select images you love, optionally mixed them with inspiring texts and art, and just share it with the hashtags #VisibleWikiWomen, #WomenofColors, #HopeAndHealing and/or #FeministMemory.
- Collaborative covering: if you are a journalist, a blogger, a podcaster or you just like to spread ideas online, you can create a piece of content about the campaign.
Support the campaign
- If you are a feminist organization, cultural and memory institution, media or other potential partner organization, become an institutional partner.
- If you are an individual connected to potential partners (like the ones mentioned above), please introduce them to the campaign!
- If you are connected with potential funders who may be able to fund and support this campaign, please bring them to the campaign!
Resources to help you
The following resource guides offer some answers to common questions about working with images. Feel free to adapt, add, and translate to suit your own needs! And feedback on any of these guides is welcome.
- Lists of women's articles that are missing images - Here are some ideas for women's images to focus on. You can add your own lists too!
- Finding or creating images
- How to find free images – Cómo encontrar imágenes libres – كیف تجد صوًرا حرة
- How to ask for image donations – Cómo solicitar donaciones de imágenes – كیف تطلب التبرع بصور)
- Creating drawings for Wikipedia – Creando dibujos para Wikipedia – عمل رسومات لویكیبیدیا
- Uploading images
- How to upload images to Wikimedia Commons – Cómo subir imágenes a Wikimedia Commons – كيف ترفع صورًا على ويكيميديا كومنز
- Don't forget to categorize your images under the category VisibleWikiWomen so we can find them later!
- Adding images to Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia: do's and don'ts – Agregando imágenes a Wikipedia qué hacer y qué no – إضافة الصور إلى ویكیمیدیا كومنز وویكیبیدیا: افعل ولا تفعل
- Giving consent for images on Wikipedia – Consentimiento para imágenes en Wikipedia – على الصور التي تنشر على ویكیبیدیا إعطاء الموافقة
- Other guides we like
Super amigxs and friends in collaboration (Join us!)
Partners in previous campaigns (2018–2022)
- Women in Red and at #WikiWomenInRed
- Art + Feminism #NowEditingAF
- Mujeres latinoamericanas en Wikimedia
- Wikimedia Tunisie #WikimediaTN
- Association CLibre #CLibreTn
- Wikimedia Israel #WikimediaIL
- The Black Lunch Table #blacklunchtable
- Global Fund for Women
- Wikimedia Community User Group Brazil
- Wikimedia Uruguay
- Wikimedia Argentina
- Wikimedia Bolivia
- WikiDonne (#WikiDonne)
- O Foundation
- Global Voices
- Syrian Female Journalist Network
- Biblioteca Daniel Cosío Villegas (Mexico)
- Amical Wikimedia
- International Network of Women’s Museums
- Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)
- Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
- Wikimedia DC
- Wikimedia Nigeria
- Africa is a Country
- Women in the Fire Service UK
- International Women’s Day Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon 2020
- Ennegreciendo Wikipedia
- #SheTransformsTech from World Pulse
- Wikimedia UK
- International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) Consortium
- Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era – DAWN
- Periódicas (Argentina)
- Gobierno de Entre Ríos (Argentina)
- African Women's Development and Communication Network – FEMNET (Kenya)
- Barbados Museum & Historical Society
- FemInStyle Africa
- Lankelly Chase
- Wikimedistas de Uruguay
- Wiki Movement Brazil User Group
- Wikimedia Foundation
- Wikimedia Ghana User Group
- Noircir Wikipédia
- Campaña ¡Alto! Mujeres trabajando
- Flickr Foundation
- Mozilla Foundation
- 500 Women Scientists
New 2023 partners: welcome!
Social media (Join the conversation!)
- Visit our Facebook page! Suggest figures you want to make visible.
- Use our social media toolkit in English or Spanish.
Events and edit-a-thons (Find an event near you!)
In 2023, there will be many local events to improve the visibility of women in Wikipedia. Edit-a-thons, editing workshops and other activities are being organized by wikipedians around the world.
If you want to be part of such events, search for an event near you, or contact your Wikimedia local chapter. Remember that in addition to creating articles about notable women, you can also take or look for pictures to illustrate them.
Would you like to organize a specific event for the VisibleWikiWomen challenge? We can give you some ideas, resources and support to carry out this plan. Just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's talk!
If you are an Wikimedia event host, like an edit-a-thon, you can join the #VisibleWikiWomen campaign, inviting participants to upload photos of notable women to Wikimedia Commons and to illustrate articles in Wikipedia. We suggest you add some activities related to this challenge in your event. Why not set up a photographic set and invite some notable women from your city to be photographed for Commons? Or maybe do a specific workshop on the use of images in Wikipedia? Join the campaign adding your event below.
Alphabetical by country, Global events with event pages at top
|Language||When||Trainer/Organiser||Country or region or language||Event page|
|Spanish||March 1 to 31||Wikimedia chapters and user groups||Regional / Latam||¡Alto! Mujeres trabajando|
|Portuguese||May 2023||Wikimedia chapters and user groups||Portugal||Ilustratona Mulheres Visíveis na Wiki|
What we’ve done so far
In 2018 we launched the VisibleWikiWomen pilot edition, followed by other three successful campaigns in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. Highlights from last year's campaign include:
- 2022 marked the 5th edition of the #VisibleWikiWomen campaign. Launched on March 8, under the theme Hope and healing: Creating feminist memory online. in 2022, #VisibleWikiWomen counted 1,194 images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, illustrating pages in 9 different Wikipedias plus Wikidata, by 123 participants, 37 of them new editors. All these images together total 53,096 pageviews.
- Having realized that the #VisibleWikiWomen program coordination would ideally be a full-time position and not a time-bound one, we’ve been working on expanding the team and have hired a full time #VisibleWikiWomen program coordinator, Sunshine Fionah Komusana, and a communications co-lead, Youlendree Appasamy, who started working with us in June and July 2022, respectively.
- As part of Women's Month celebration, we co-hosted the regional campaign ¡Alto! Mujeres trabajando, in partnership with Wikimedia chapters in Latin America, with the aim of making women visible in professions and roles that have historically been dominated by men.
- We made a two-episode podcast series of interviews in celebration of #PrideMonth and as part of the #VisibleWikiWomen campaign. In these interviews, we featured: Arya Jeipea on “our existence is our truth” and Letícia Carolina Nascimento em “nada sobre nós sem nós”.
- In the backdrop of the celebration of the United Nations International Day for People of African Descent on August 31, 2022, we held an editathon in partnership with the collective 500 Women Scientists, to celebrate the contributions of women and non-binary people of African descent in STEM and to ameliorate the erasure of their labor, voices and stories on Wikipedia, Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons.
- In September, we continued to focus around the theme of celebrating women and queer people in workplaces that have historically excluded them. In partnership with Flickr and the Flickr Foundation, we held a photo-a-ton to celebrate the women and non-binary people who work in historically cis-male-dominated workplaces, and the history of their fight for labour rights (maternity leave, equal pay, bathrooms, sexual harassment legislation etc.).
- On September 2022 we brought the #VisibleWikiWomen campaign physically to the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa #FIFAfrica2022, in Lusaka, Zambia, to document the presence of African women digital rights defenders and leaders at the conference.