18 May 2018

Africa: Amnesty 'Edit-a-Thon' to Document Women Activists' Lives

opinion

London — "The more women human rights defenders are fairly represented the better the protection"

Fewer than one in five Wikipedia biographies are of women, and a tiny minority are human rights defenders - a situation Amnesty International hopes to change this weekend with a push to shine a light on those history has overlooked.

Amnesty is teaming up with Wikimedia, the non-profit branch of the online encyclopedia, which every year brings together hundreds of volunteer editors and activists to create new articles on a specified topic.

Over the next two days, the volunteers will aim to add or improve the biographies of thousands of women rights defenders all over the world, which Amnesty hopes will help protect them as well as providing the recognition they deserve.

"The more women human rights defenders are fairly represented the better the protection," the head of Amnesty International's global human rights defenders programme Guadalupe Marengo told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"Human rights defenders have been attacked and intimidated. The space in which they work in is in some places shrinking.

"If you then talk about women human rights defenders or those who defend LGBTI rights, the most marginalised ones, then the attacks are even worse ... that's why we thought it was crucial to do this."

Among those whose lives will be documented are Czech activist Elena Gorolová, who launched her campaign to end discrimination against Roma women after she was forcibly sterilised following the birth of her second son.

Another is Bridget Tolley, who co-founded a campaign group led by relatives of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada.

"I have faced the impacts of colonialism, racism, economic exploitation, systemic abuse and hatred of women all my life," said Tolley.

"To have my work highlighted in a positive way means that our struggles and our resilience as indigenous women can no longer be ignored. We will not be silenced."

Reporting by Meka Beresford @mekaberesford, Editing by Claire Cozens.

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