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 Thursday, 17 January 2013
UNESCO’s Gender Equality in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community is looking for groups and initiatives that promote women’s role and representation in FOSS. This will allow building a comprehensive repository of FOSS Groups and Initiatives by and for Women and Girls.

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is liberally licensed software that grants users the right to use, study, adapt and distribute its design through the availability of its source code. Such approach to the use and development of software encourages innovation and skills-building.

FOSS has dramatically changed the way software is produced, distributed, supported and used. However, most of the problems pertaining to gender inequalities in the software industry have been duplicated in the FOSS field. According to UNESCO’s Report on Gender Equality and Free and Open Source Software, globally less than 20 per cent of ICT developers and FOSS users are women. Furthermore, women’s entry level wages are only 17 per cent of men’s wages. Figures are especially worrying in FOSS. Only 2 per cent of professionals working in FOSS are women, compared to 28 per cent in proprietary software.

For this reason, UNESCO calls on FOSS communities to build a comprehensive list of FOSS Groups and Initiatives for Women and Girls. UNESCO encourages women’s and girls’ active participation in all aspects of the development and use of FOSS at all levels: cultural, economic, political and technical.

The objectives of the repository are the following:

•    to raise awareness about the gender gaps in FOSS;
•    to give more visibility to women-led FOSS groups and activities, including their important role as models and mentors for women and girls interested in FOSS;
•    to highlight women’s representation and achievements in FOSS, and dedicated activities;
•    to provide a platform where different FOSS groups can create collaborative efforts, exchange information through relevant NGOs, associations, business, academia and   the public sectors, and promote initiatives contributing to women's participation and advancement in FOSS.

Contributions can be send by e-mail to: or join the UNESCO FOSS community by providing the following information:
•    for groups: name of the group, national or regional scope, a brief introduction and the link;
•    for initiatives/activities: title and a brief introduction including goals, status and achievements.

Further details