The piloting phase of the European project WikiWomen has kicked off in Burgum, Friesland. In collaboration with partners in Friesland, Ireland and the Basque Country, secondary school students from havo-top (Burgum) and from the Drachtster Lyseum will work on new biographies about Frisian women. The reason for the project is the imbalance between men and women on Wikipedia (Frisian: Wikipedy), which is about 80-20% in almost all languages.
"Wikipedia is the largest encyclopaedia in the world and we want it to reflect reality. It cannot be the case that 80% of everyone who deserves a biography on Wikipedia is male. I don't believe that," says Welmoed Sjoerdstra, project employee at Afûk. At the kick-off, she and her colleagues Lisa Boersma and Stephan Berger and Anna Marije Bloem van Cedin got around 60 upper secondary students from both schools enthusiastic about working on the new project. There was also a Mystery Guest present, biological farmer and power woman Welmoed Deinum, who herself does not (yet) have a Wiki page.
The project gets a place in Series 36, the digital method for teaching Frisian used by schools across the region, but the biographies will appear on Wikipedia itself, because, as Welmoed Sjoerdstra says: "Most people think that Wikipedia is not reliable, but precisely because everyone adds to it and can be corrected, you could see it as, in its own way, a very reliable source of information." A 'valid' article uses at least three sources, which show that the subject (or the person) is important enough to earn a spot on the site. Therefore, doing source research is part of the project and the students will also visit a GLAM (gallery, library, archive or museum).
In March, a delegation of students from Drachten will travel to Ireland to exchange the newly written biographies with peers from Ireland and the Basque Country. So their work also contributes to the Irish- and Basque-language Wikipedias, and vice versa! Next year there will be a second meeting, in Spain, where students from Burgum will attend. The project makes the student an author and gives them the opportunity to work together to close the so-called Gender Gap. In this way, it is a great example of meaningful writing education.