Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Feminist Economics on Wikipedia

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and has been observed as such since 1981. This week specifically, October 15-21 2017, is the National Network to End Domestic Violence‘s Week of Action. During this time, organizations and advocacy groups work to educate the public on programs, services, and community resources to prevent violence and to support survivors. Knowing one’s rights and access to support can be vital and life-saving. Thus, Wikipedia serves as an important resource for such informational literacy. While domestic violence affects all genders, student work on Wikipedia around resources and policies affecting women is the focus of our post today.

Women and girls make up half of the world’s population. Some make it their life’s work to increase awareness of female related matters and to advocate on behalf of other women who can’t speak for themselves. Others contribute by way of education. In the spring of 2017 Dr. Diana Strassmann taught a class on Feminist Economics and Public Policy at the University of Chicago, where students were tasked with writing about topics such as gender relations and the organization of domestic and market work; violence against women; and healthcare.

Domestic violence is an ongoing concern in the world that has yet to be resolved. Part of the issue lies within how society reacts to domestic violence on both the macro and micro level. This grows increasingly more complicated as one examines domestic abuse in different countries, each with its own unique culture and way of addressing problems. One of Dr. Strassmann’s students addressed the subject of domestic violence in Brazil by greatly expanding the topic’s article to approximately 3-4 times its original size. Among the content they added was information about the Domestic Violence Law of 2006, which provided the country’s first legal form of protection for survivors of domestic violence. The law is named Lei Maria da Penha, after a woman by the same name who survived years of domestic abuse and advocated for stronger laws to protect other survivors.

Development aid can greatly assist a country or group with national goals around gender equality. One student chose to expand the article on development aid to include information on types of aid. They added information on the history of development aid for gender equality, beginning with the UN Decade for Women in 1975. Another student expanded Wikipedia’s coverage of the gender responsive approach for girls in the juvenile justice system. This new approach looks at specific issues that may cause female individuals to enter the justice system. The approach also analyzes their needs, as well as gender specific ways to help keep them from re-entering. A similar approach is also being used in some classes in the United States, where educators use culturally responsive curriculum to make the coursework more approachable to students from various backgrounds and cultures. And speaking of education, another student contributed content on female education in West Africa, showing how the region’s history and culture contributed to the quality and format of female education. Much work has been done to lessen the gender disparity in education, but there is still more that needs to be done and at all levels of education; women are still in the minority when it comes to people seeking higher education in West Africa.

Wikipedia has a wealth of knowledge, however the site cannot grow without users contributing and correcting its information. Editing is a wonderful way to teach your students about technical writing, collaboration, and sourcing in a unique learning environment. In a Wikipedia assignment, your students also have the opportunity to contribute to political and social topics that impact important societal discussions.

If you are interested in using Wikipedia with your next class, please contact Wiki Education at to find out how you can gain access to tools, online trainings, and printed materials.

ImageMariaDaPenha.jpg, by Antonio Cruz/ABr, CC BY 3.0 BR, via Wikimedia Commons.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.