When I was looking for initiatives to run as a first-time community organizer in the Philippines, I stumbled across the Art+Feminism campaign by chance. Although I had previously participated in the WikiGap Challenge and was well aware of the gender gap issues in Wikimedia projects, my understanding of Feminism was not the same as what I have learned after three years of running the campaign; let me share these beautiful stories with you in a few highlights.
Things started from scratch; while I didn’t have direct communication with the A+F community at first,I had the sole purpose of conducting a series of edit-a-thons to help bridge the gender gap in Wikipedia.
The project ran smoothly at first. We were a week ahead of schedule with the project’s start date. Come March 12, 2020, I received an email about “COVID-19 Wikimedia Foundation Grants for public events,” and as a result, scheduled events were canceled. Because there were still articles that needed to be improved, I encouraged the editors to conduct the editing from their own places.
Aside from the pandemic, there are also other factors that affected the actual expectations I had for the event. The majority of the activities took place in a computer shop. We were on the seaside, and the Internet connection was mostly down or slow. Also, new participants require a lot of coaching and follow-up in order to complete their edits. The majority of them are hesitant to use Wikipedia and this is a long-time problem in the Philippines. Due to the cancellation of the offline events, we transitioned to one online activity (that we were not yet familiar with). There were technological challenges that we had to deal with.
But considering the results, we were able to have 4 events, 18 participants, 8 new editors, 66 articles improved, and 6 repeat participants. I guess we contributed a lot to the international campaign and this was a significant step in introducing the A+F objectives in the Philippines.
With the Art+Feminism Community now to assist me all throughout the campaign, we were able to create other alternatives as to how interested participants can join in. This created open opportunities for us to conduct interviews with feminists in the region, and also host an online exhibit of artworks of visual artists in the Philippines. The Community hours conducted by the A+F community were a huge help in the overall brainstorming of our 2nd-year event, together with the WMF Community Resources team. It has been a learning experience of how to create your proposal on meta-wiki and how to incorporate activities not limited to Wikipedia editing.
Overall, we have 14 editors who take part in the edit-a-thon and 8 artists who participate in the online exhibit. The team has also been to three art galleries: the 416 Art Space, Public Good Library, and Savage Mind, and interviewed two feminists and cultural activists.
One significant comment I had with the local feminists was the question, why would a man lead a certain event such as this instead of a woman? I took that as a legitimate question and have seen that we still would need to work on the many faces of feminism, its aspect of diversity and inclusion. That is what leads us on creating a more open space for the next year’s Art+Feminism campaign.
With me being in the role of a Network Organizer at Art+Feminism, I decided to increase the reach of participation of our local volunteers. If we would want to sustain the advocacies and involve a lot of people in this movement, the work should not be solely done by me. I was grateful that a group of eight new volunteers and three experienced Wikimedians were eager to work on different aspects of the projects, including edit-a-thons, interviews, and other forms of Wiki outreach activities. Some recent activities we had are developments of Wikiquote incubator projects in our local languages (Central Bikol and Tagalog), wherein we visited libraries in search of references. The team also participated in the Earth Day Celebration through a Coffee painting workshop joined by 21 female participants and 12 volunteers. And we are happy to highlight the outreach activity we had on Catanduanes Island, donating a Kiwix device to a public school and sharing the wiki projects with teachers there.
Little did we know that our first participation in the A+F campaign would grow into this through the years. And we are all grateful for the support the A+F community has given us along the way.
Anthony Diaz is a writer and visual artist from Bicol, Philippines. He works as a registrar in a public school and is an Art+Feminism Network Organizer.