The internet has had a revolutionary impact on how we access and share information. With its arrival, a storehouse of knowledge is ever present at our fingertips. But what happens when this knowledge, which reaches millions, is incomplete or biased? Unfortunately, content on the internet is as gendered as contemporary society. For instance, Wikipedia, the world’s most widely read encyclopedia, sorely lacks on the representation of women and their achievements.
Art+Feminism is a global campaign which seeks to improve content on ‘women in the arts’ on Wikipedia and encourage female editorship of the platform. It believes that for the world to wake up to women’s contribution to art and history, they must themselves get involved in the preservation of their own stories.
Globally, Wikipedia has merely 13% of its editors who identify as women. This number is even more staggering in India with only 3% of its editors as women. Public awareness of Indian women artists is as dismal, with very few people being able to name more than five of them.
Thus, to write more women into Wikipedia, the Heritage Lab organised an Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at the National Museum, Delhi. On 18th April 2017, 14 participants lent their time to us. The event began with a tour of the Museum, with a special emphasis on female presence among its galleries. Following this, participants were taught how to edit Wikipedia.
They then chose one of the many female characters, artists, personalities they had just witnessed and started searching for resources online to improve their Wikipedia entries. The National Museum had kindly provided us with some information as well. Some improved the Wikipedia entry on the famous Harappan sculpture of Dancing Girl while others wrote about the royal courtesan Amrapali of Buddhist lore. A first time editor created the article for Vasantasena – you don’t need to be a pro, anyone can do it. Here’s a closer look at what we accomplished in the span of a few hours-
We were also covered in the media. The participants were excited to add to the corpus of knowledge on the internet and learn new things in the process. Since 2014, over 7,000 people at more than 500 events around the world have participated in Art+Feminism’s Edit-a-thons, resulting in the creation and improvement of more than 11,000 articles on Wikipedia. If you would like to contribute to this international campaign, look out for the next edit-a-thon in a city near you come and fight for equality one article at a time.
Srishti is an abundantly curious individual who counts history, poetry and chocolate as her many first loves. As the Editor of The Heritage Lab she does her bit to breathe fresh life into how museums are perceived in India. She’s currently studying Cultural Anthropology at the University College, London.