Youth put a spotlight on gender equality at a sustainable development conference

Date: Monday, December 16, 2019

HerStory volunteers at the Arab Sustainable Development Week 2019. Photo: UN Women/ Emad Karim

Cairo, 3 November 2019. The Arab Sustainable Development Week is an annual forum convened by the League of Arab States and partners to discuss efforts and challenges in the region regarding achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The 2019 ASDWeek attracted over 1,300 participants including officials and decision-makers, civil society representatives, Arab and international experts, academic institutions and innovators, private sector and business community representatives.

As part of its programme this year, the ASDWeek hosted an ‘editathon’ which engaged over 130 youth volunteers to edit, translate, research and post articles on Arabic Wikipedia focusing on the SDGs and the mainstreaming of gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment across all the global goals.

The side event was organized by HerStory, a UN Women-supported initiative that mobilizes youth volunteers to produce and disseminate digital content on gender equality and women’s interests and issues in the Arabic language through the Arabic Wikipedia platform.

HerStory works with a network of over 1000 volunteers across 12 countries in the Arab States region and has partnered with a number of organizations such as UNESCO, the World Food Programme, International Telecommunication Union, the League of Arab States, the UN Population Fund, and others to develop knowledge in diverse thematic areas related to gender equality and the empowerment of women.

This event was also part of UN Women’s ongoing campaign “Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future”, conducted on the occasion of the 25th anniversary and review of the Beijing Declaration. Since July 2019, HerStory has mobilized over 600 volunteers to develop and disseminate knowledge in the Arabic language concerning the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Platform for Action. 

Weaam Mokhtar supports HerStory volunteers publishing their Wikipedia articles Photo: UN Women/Emad Karim

“As a team we feel we are part of something bigger and witness change made by our own hands, but for me I feel that my contribution responds to inequalities that I encountered in my life. This year, our work focused on the SDGs, the Beijing Platform for Action, women’s health and other topics. I learnt a lot myself and felt that I am sharing this knowledge with the Arab world and making a contribution to make knowledge accessible. HerStory for me is an inspiring initiative, based on the belief that a better world can exist and that we can work together to see it happening,” said Weaam Mokhtar, HerStory Team Leader, Egypt.

Hagar Ramadan supports HerStory volunteers publishing their Wikipedia articles. Photo: UN Women/ Emad Karim

“As a HerStory team leader, I have been working with 40 amazing volunteers and we managed together to produce 112 articles on Arabic Wikipedia in one month. All of them are complete and covering topics related to the SDGs, women’s rights and women's biographies. It's encouraging to witness your achievement in enriching Arabic knowledge and see the impact of our articles read by thousands of people,” says Hagar Ramadan, HerStory Team Leader, Egypt.

“With every HerStory Editathon UN Women organizes, we contribute to reducing the gender knowledge gap in the Arab States region. Our vision for HerStory is to close the gap by 2030 as a statement that gender inequality can be eliminated when youth take a leadership position with the support of technology and dedicated partners,” said Janneke Kukler, Deputy Regional Director UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States.

May Hashem, Coordinator of HerStory Beijing +25 Campaign, addressing volunteers at the ASD Week Photo: UN Women/Emad Karim

“There is a huge gender knowledge gap on Arabic Wikipedia, where women’s contributions are not documented, not up-to-date, or not written in a gender-sensitive language. HerStory’s vision is to bridge that gap and build a youth movement to champion gender equality,” said May Hashem, Coordinator of HerStory Beijing +25 Campaign. 

HerStory is a youth-led initiative, supported by the UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States to produce and disseminate knowledge about gender equality issues and women's and girls’ lives and contributions. HerStory is about recording human experiences from a feminist perspective, emphasizing the role of women and address the absence and exclusion of women from historical and public records in history, politics, science, technology, leadership, and religion.

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