HerStory: The Youth Movement Writing for Gender Equality in the Arab Sates Region
HerStory is a youth-led initiative, supported by the UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States (ROAS) to produce and disseminate knowledge about gender equality issues and women and girls’ lives and contributions in the Arab region. HerStory is about recording the human experiences from a feminist perspective, emphasizing the role of women and address the absence and exclusion of women from historical records over centuries that have minimized the roles women have played in history, politics, science, technology, leadership, and religion.
With a better understanding of the way women and girls live their lives, and the specific inequalities and injustices that hold them back every day, communities can better identify the challenges and find solutions to the inequalities. Recognizing the contribution of women through history can defy the current stereotypes about women and provide positive role models for girls and boys.
In 2016, ROAS initiated a collaboration between Wikimedia, Empower Women, the UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth and a group of volunteers, and launched HerStory to enhance and increase the content on Wikipedia related to women and gender equality with the overall aim to raise awareness and close the gender knowledge gap. Since its launch in the Arab States region, more than 500 volunteer editors have been trained and have edited over 2000 articles on Arabic Wikipedia during a series of HerStory editathons. Editathons are organized events where editors of HerStory edit articles regarding a specific topic or range of topics. During the editathons, the HerStory team trains volunteers to research, edit, translate, and upload articles that feature prominent women and gender issues to Arabic Wikipedia.
Why HerStory chose Wikipedia as a platform?
Wikipedia is the sixth-most-visited website on the internet and over 1,796,235 sites share links to Wikipedia pages. The emergence of interactive crowdsourced information may help to close the gender knowledge gap. As of 20 January 2018, there were 23,676 articles related to women on Arabic Wikipedia, representing only 4.2% of all the articles on Arabic Wikipedia, while the global gap is 15%. As such, Wikipedia can be a useful vessel in advancing knowledge about women, women´s achievements, and gender inequalities. The potential for reach can be found in its numbers:
- Every month, there are around 18 billion visits to Wikipedia from users across the globe.
- Arabic language Wikipedia is the 19th largest wiki in terms of the number of articles.
- On average, 107 new articles are created every day.
- There are 65,070 visits per hour to Arabic Wikipedia and 185,083,853 visits each month.
- Saudi Arabia represents the largest single user of Wikipedia in the Arab States, with 50 million visits per month, across all language pages.
- With 39 million monthly visits, Egypt ranks second after Saudi Arabia.
- While the number of Arabic speakers is estimated at 290 million persons, for every million Arabic speakers there are only two registered Wikipedia editors.
- Increase and enhance the quality of articles about gender and women on Arabic Wikipedia;
- Produce crowd-sourced knowledge and campaigns to promote gender equality;
- Raise awareness about gender through innovation in advocacy and technology;
- Strengthen cooperation with knowledge, research, and communication partners;
- Build the technological and academic capacities of HerStory’s participants;
- Empower young women and men to interact online in a positive manner that can contribute to enhanced online discourse and safer online space, particularly for women and girls;
- Increase public awareness on the role of women and their achievements in history and daily life;
- Increase the visibility of the role of women in the Arab States, via the creation of a HerStory network between prominent cultural and academic institutions across the region;
- Recognize the power and influence of youth empowerment and engagement.
Regionally, UN Women’s goal for the HerStory initiative is to double the number of articles about gender and empowerment of women and girls on Wikipedia between 2018 and 2020 by editing existing articles to enhance its quality, translate featured articles from other languages, and adding new articles and photos about women and gender equality. In the Arab States, this target entails the production of 25,000 articles.
HerStory and the SDGs:
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes that the spread of information and communication technology (ICT) and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress, to bridge the digital divide and to develop knowledge societies. HerStory uses ICT to facilitate crowdsourced knowledge production and collaboration between volunteers by building the technical capacity of women and men to document the stories and contribution of women, and produce the foundational knowledge needed for the personal and career development of millions of women and girls.
HerStory is building a community of volunteers and gender equality champions that continues to work on enhancing the content on Wikipedia beyond editathons events. HerStory is managed by UN Women ROAS and coordinated by May Hashem member of the UN Women’s Gender Innovation Agora and other members who support in recruiting new volunteers, mapping the gender gap of their respective communities, and plan editathons in their community. HerStory coordinators and volunteers are recruited online via a public call and from organized youth groups and university organizations.
HerStory is grateful to all the partners who contributed technical, financial, and logistical support. Specially our champions:
- The Swedish Embassies in Amman, Baghdad, Cairo, Iraq and Rabat;
- The UN World Food Programme (WFP);
- The Swedish Institute in Alexandria.
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO);
- The United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU);
Follow HerStory to know more about future activities and how to be part of the movement: #HerStory #قصتها
HerStory on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HerStory.UNWomen/
HerStory on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HerStory4SDGs
UN Women Arabic on Facebook:www.facebook.com/unwomenarabic/
UN Women Arabic on Twitter: https://twitter.com/unwomenarabic
For more information about HerStory and how you can get involved, please contact:
Emad Karim, Programme Specialist, Youth, Advocacy & Innovation
UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States