11 Tanzanians get Women’s Day gift: Their own Wikipedia profile

09Mar 2018
Henry Mwangonde
The Guardian
11 Tanzanians get Women’s Day gift: Their own Wikipedia profile
  • Several quite prominent names are included, whose photos are shown here. And officials say this is just for starters

ELEVEN living Tanzanian women who are perceived to have made impressive achievements without proper recognition have now had their profiles uploaded onto the international online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, for the world to see.

The formal uploading event was held in Dar es Salaam yesterday as part of activities to commemorate the annual International Women’s Day (March 8) in Tanzania.


The women now enjoying a new international profiling include current Urambo East member of parliament Margaret Sitta, 1999 Miss Tanzania pageant winner Hoyce Temu, prominent gender and development analyst Prof Marjorie Mbilinyi, British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) journalist Zuhura Yunus, and socialite Rita Paulsen.


Other Tanzanian names also uploaded onto Wikipedia for the first time yesterday are Susan Mashibe, Sandra Mushi, Seko Shamte, Lilian Nasor, Abela Beteyunga, and Celine Fuko, all of whom may be relatively unknown but whose details are now available online.


The Swedish embassy in Tanzania collaborated with Wikipedia representatives in the country to organize the #WikiwomenTZ# campaign geared towards supplying Wikipedia with more articles written by and about Tanzanian women.


As part of the campaign, members of the general public were given space to nominate Tanzanian women who have done something extraordinary for society, but have not been recognized by the international community. Over 150 women were shortlisted in this manner.


The nominees were asked to supply key details about themselves, including their early life and education, along with references to verify the given information. Hence the final list of 11, which officials say is just for starters.


Although Wikipedia is recognized as the world’s largest online and user-generated encyclopedia, women remain underrepresented on the portal, with only about 15 per cent of information about them published compared to 85 per cent for men.


According to the Wikipedia editor in Tanzania, Anthony Mtananga, the figures may vary regionally, but it is clear that women’s information is less extensive than men’s regardless of which language vision someone is leading.


Said the Swedish ambassador to Tanzania, Katarina Rangnitt: “We want to shed light on Tanzanian women of different calibres, that in one way or another have contributed to their community and to this country.”


“This campaign aims to highlight women as professionals in Tanzania by narrating stories of their lives and challenges, and the trials they faced on their way to their successful careers that they are enjoying right now,” Rangnitt added.


One of the women whose names were uploaded onto Wikipedia yesterday, Prof Mbilinyi, said she is impressed that young men and women are now recognizing the work that she and other Tanzanians - both men and women – have been doing for years in advocating for women’s empowerment in the country.


“The battle continues, but progress has been made...this is the time to commemorate our fellow women who worked tirelessly with us to reach this far,” she remarked.


According to a 2016 study, biographies about women on Wikipedia contain negative information about their family and relations much more frequently than biographies about men.


The study findings also showed that it is more likely to see Wikipedia pages about women linked to pages about men and relevant gender-neutral projects than vice-versa. For example, the English language Wikipedia page on Brexit is linked to Wikipedia pages about male politicians such as David Cameron, but not the page about Theresa May.