Whose Voices?

Ep 8 - Pamela Ofori-Boateng and the joy of highlighting women’s stories on Wikipedia

While we navigate the current COVID-19 pandemia, it’s timely we take a look at the stories of women who have led and contributed - and are still doing so - to the critical infrastructure of care that sustain our communities and saves lives. This is the case of Veronica Bekoe, a Ghanaian biological scientist who has worked for more than 30 years in the health public sector in Ghana, and has been instrumental in the AIDS/STI Control Program.

Veronica Bekoe may be better known for inventing the Veronica bucket, a sanitation set-up used for mitigating the scarcity of running water and encouraging proper hand washing. It was invented back in the 90s and it has been used mainly in schools and hospitals in Ghana since then. However, following the outbreak of COVID-19, it regained attention and is currently being widely used to curve the spread of the virus through proper hand washing in many African countries.

But how do we know all of this? It certainly would have been much harder to learn about Veronica Bekoe and her brilliant sanitary invention if this story were not on Wikipedia. That’s why, in this episode of ‘Whose Voices?’, we want to feature the work of Pamela Ofori-Boateng, a Ghanaian journalist, Wikimedian, and member of Open Foundation West Africa, who created the Veronica bucket Wikipedia page.

“My focus has always been to promote underrepresented women and also highlight their achievements. Almost all my edits are about women.”

Pamela is a hard worker Wikipedian editor, and the Veronica bucket page didn’t come out without a good dose of effort. When it got published the response on social media was so positive that Pamela ended up thrilled with the whole process.

“I’m just happy that people are getting to learn about the fact that Wikipedia can be used to highlight women”

A strong and active supporter of the #VisibleWikiWomen campaign, Pamela is passionate about bringing women’s stories online - something she has been doing since 2017. One of the next challenges for Pamela and the campaign is to bring an image of Veronica Bekoe to Wikipedia. As of now, Veronica is invisible on the free online encyclopedia as her biography doesn’t have her profile picture.

We invite you to join us in this episode and learn more about Pamela’s experience creating the Veronika Bucket page on Wikipedia. More so, you will be inspired by Pamela’s commitment to show how we can and should give more visibility to women and their achievements online. Last but not least, Pamela has also a strong sense of companionship and solidarity, something that would not be bad to catch in times like these.

“When I discover a high profile woman that is not represented in Wikipedia, it saddens my heart and it pushes me to do all I can to put that person on Wikipedia.”