Participating in an international conference for women is a wonderful experience. It is more rewarding when the conference is for Wikimedians to discuss issues primarily concerning women. The WikiWomenCamp, held at Buenos Aires, Argentina from 23-25 June and WikiGenero held on the next day was an enlightening experience not only for me, but also for the other 16 attendees from 15 countries of the world.
The traditionally assigned gender role of women in India is to look after the household and rear children. With the passage of time, educated women started to get employed and started having finances of their own, but most of them still continue to fulfill the gender roles in addition to their career, leaving very little time for volunteering. The gender gap that exists in the global Wikimedia community has its reflections in India also. Although the number of women volunteers from India working with Wikimedia is rising overtime, their number is far less than that of male volunteers. With the IndiaEducation Program, many new women have ventured into Wikiprojects as CampusAmbassadors, but their number is far lesser than men.
Participants of the WikiWomenCamp, Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Jaluj (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
The insights I provided were on the diversity of languages and cultures in India, and how one language Wikiproject differs from the other in terms of culture, and how it is reflected in the article writing styles. I also mentioned about the outreach programs that are being successfully conducted in India through social media and universities mainly aiming students enthusiastic about working with free knowledge projects.
At the WikiWomenCamp, every session was a new learning experience. There was always some idea I could propose, and a new piece of information I could make a note of. The insights and opinions of the elderly participants and that of the educators were valuable. The facilitation in open space format was comfortable and highly productive – it gave opportunities for women to lead and facilitate sessions who would otherwise have remained silent. Notes were taken on Wiki to ensure that the ideas shaped out of the discussions are recorded for future reference.
The important decisions taken by the members at the conference were the creation of an emergency mailing list for dealing with abuse, relaunching of WikiChix – the Women’s wiki, WikiWomen Translate program and launching OTRS queue for harassment. The feasibility of launching new global projects for women with participation from the home countries of the members was also discussed.
The camp made me more sensitive towards gender issues and helped me learn wonderful ideas for increasing women participation in the Wikiprojects of my home country. Besides, I could discuss with representatives from other countries about providing them assistance in launching gender specific projects in their home country. The camp was directly relevant to my experiences and qualifications, and meeting many WikiWomen boosted my confidence in working with outreach programs.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to Wikimedia Germany and Wikimedia Austria for granting me scholarship to attend the first WikiWomenCamp. The excellent work done by Wikimedia Argentina, Wikimedia Germany, Wikimedia Australia and Wikimedia Austria in supporting women’s events is very much appreciated.