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Participants’ voice: focus on gender and communication

Interview with Ms Estelle Loiseau, Wikigender Coordinator, participant in the workshop on “Gender equality for development effectiveness”, 3-7 June 2013.

Wikigender is a project initiated by the OECD Development Centre to facilitate the exchange of and to improve knowledge on gender equality issues around the world. Focus is placed on gathering empirical evidence and identifying statistics to measure gender equality.  Based on the work of the OECD Gender, Institutions and Development Database, Wikigender aims to highlight the importance of social institutions, such as norms, traditions and cultural practices that impact the empowerment of women.

We have provided our readers with the official description of Wikigender. Can you tell us a bit more about recent developments?

Wikigender was initially a pilot, in the sense that as the 1st OECD Wiki, it was an opportunity for subsequent wikis such as Wikiprogress and Wikichild to learn from the Wikigender experience.

Wikigender, created in 2008 has a solid and growing community of over 2,000 editors and an average of 50,000 monthly visits. Since 2012, we have promoted our work through regular online discussions to engage further with our audience on these issues.

The Wikigender university programme involves students, for example, in India, Mexico, Thailand, France and the USA, in writing articles and exchanging knowledge on gender equality. The programme helps build bridges and fosters networks among students and academics.

Wikigender Connect” is a monthly newsletter that highlights important developments, events and articles in the area of gender equality.

Who are the main users of Wikigender and what do they use it for?

The audience is very diverse; it includes policymakers, researchers and gender experts, civil society, students and the donor community. They use the site to:

  • research country information on gender
  • access definitions of gender theories and concepts
  • find information on upcoming events and promote their own
  • participate in online discussions to exchange knowledge, best practices and information on gender equality
  • or contribute to the platform in the same “wiki spirit” as Wikipedia, by creating articles, editing or updating existing information.

What are the objectives of your role in Wikigender and which aspects require the most attention?

There are several aspects, including community building, presenting our work, linking Wikigender to the work we do on our Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI), and building content and programmes for the platform and partnerships.

Although Wikigender is open to everyone, there is quality control. In the “wiki spirit” an article will never be complete, as it may always be improved by other users. However, Wikigender staff always checks the articles to ensure quality.

The aspects that require the most attention from me are keeping Wikigender up-to-date and ensuring that it meets the needs of the community, including via social media and online discussions.

What were your personal and institutional objectives for attending the workshop?

My personal objectives were:

  • to get a new perspective on gender from other development sectors
  • to exchange experiences, especially with participants working at the country level
  • to learn new methodologies and
  • to reinforce my knowledge of gender and development issues

My institutional objectives were similar and focused on learning about new tools and methods to mainstream gender through the work of the OECD Development Centre and to get new ideas on engaging with the community on Wikigender.

Do you think you have gained new ideas and insights into the issue?

Yes definitely, especially in terms of communicating research on gender and development through Wikigender and on using tools and guidelines that work. I also learned that there are many entry points that we can use to ensure a gender approach. The training was very interesting and I will take many good ideas back with me.

What do you plan to do after you go back home?

I will make use of the contacts made, plan future online discussions and share and apply the methodologies with my colleagues, making sure they apply them to every day work. It may be difficult, but it has to be done.

What is next for Wikigender?

In the next five years we plan to strengthen and expand our programmes, add new languages, create regional networks and expand our Wikiprogress.stat database to include more gender indicators.

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