Announcing the winners of the The Gender and Inclusive AI Research and Innovation Challenge!

February 20, 2024

The AI4D gender support team (Women at the Table, Gender at Work, and Ladysmith Collective) is pleased to announce that eight winners have now been selected for the Gender and Inclusive AI Research and Innovation Challenge. This challenge provides competitive funding for cutting edge, gender-responsive and inclusive research to be conducted by hubs, labs, and hub/lab junior researchers participating in the AI4D program. 

Two types of funding have been awarded: larger ($18-25K) grants for collaborations between hubs and labs and smaller ($5K) grants for junior researchers. Challenge grantees will participate in peer-learning workshops to promote network-building and creating new knowledge around the hubs and labs’ areas of expertise, gender and AI, as well as publish an article and/or short media piece to summarize and share their findings

Through the projects listed below, successful recipients will work to:

  • Contribute to gender-responsive and inclusive AI research and innovation;  
  • Develop and contribute to foundational knowledge to strengthen the growing field of applied gender-responsive and inclusive AI research;
  • Build a regional network of researchers engaged in gender-responsive and inclusive AI research;  
  • Identify and exchange promising practices for gender-responsive and inclusive AI research;
  • Recognize and promote Global South leadership in foundational and applied gender-responsive and inclusive AI research.

And the winners are…

Dodoma Lab: Inclusive Interventions to Address Systemic Barriers and Promote Inclusion of Women in AI: Case of Tanzania 

This project aims to dismantle systemic barriers and champion the inclusion of women in AI research and development in Tanzania. Central to this mission is the STEM Teachers’ Training and Capacity Building initiative. Recognizing the instrumental role teachers hold in shaping students’ ambitions, especially girls, this project seeks to equip educators with skills they need. By training STEM teachers in gender sensitivity, core AI concepts, and inclusive teaching strategies, the aim is to foster a classroom environment that is both supportive and inclusive. This positive shift has the potential to significantly boost girls’ participation in AI and broader STEM areas. Moreover, this commitment extends beyond the classroom; the aim is to continue encouraging and engaging both trained teachers and female students to immerse themselves in AI events, including workshops and conferences.

EduAI Hub: Women Experience Privacy Differently: A Gender toolkit for Inclusive AI in Education

This project aims to create awareness and develop new toolkits for developers and designers to identify gender-related privacy concerns in the education sector. The anticipated impact is increased understanding of women’s privacy concerns by the design community, which fits into the EduAI Hub’s overall change experiment to build equitable and inclusive AI through bridging the gap between the design and user communities. This intervention specifically targets the design community and gender-related privacy issues that can arise in the use of AI for education. In the short term, it will support knowledge acquisition towards a gendered approach to data and design through skilled trainers at the workshops, and the development of a gender privacy tool. There will also be peer-to-peer facilitated in the design community as participants share knowledge with their respective networks.

AI4AFS (ATPS, ICIPE and Kumasi Hive): Strengthening the capacity of women and marginalised communities in Africa’s Agriculture and Food Systems to harness the potentials of Artificial Intelligence technology

The project uses ‘design by inclusion’ methodologies and co-creation processes to ensure that women and marginalized communities fully utilize and benefit from artificial intelligence tools in crop disease detection, soil management, and product marketing. The project seeks to reduce the gap between women and marginalized groups (including youth and physically challenged individuals) and male adopters of AI innovations in agriculture. These are systemic and structural issues that have persisted historically and yet these factors are key determinants of ability to access and use AI technology and tools in AFS. Activities include the co-development of training modules on capacity strengthening for women and marginalized communities, training delivery, and a publication on best practices to showcase learning.

RAIL: Inclusive Interventions to Address Systemic Barriers and Promote Inclusion of Women in AI: Case of Tanzania 

This project engages in participatory action research to improve the Orange and Boa Me app to better serve victims/survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) and gender-based violence (GBV). Through research and engagement with stakeholders, The Responsible Artificial Intelligence Lab at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and technology, Ghana aims to provide better services for victims/survivors of IPV/GBV by refining the Boa Me app. Project activities include a report on why the Boa Me app failed; AI and IPV awareness creation through multi-stakeholder engagements; community outreach; training programs and dissemination, training and publications.

Villgro Africa: Convening & Supporting African women in AI  

This project aims to involve more women entrepreneurs in the AI innovation space in Africa by effectively encouraging applications from African women-led AI enterprises and supporting them throughout the processes. Villgro aims to inspire more women AI entrepreneurs to apply to its selection process, highlight stories to encourage women-led entrepreneurship and build a pipeline, encourage a “women in AI for Health (AI4H)” community of practice and increase the number of applications in 2024 and beyond to the AI4H call from  women-led startups. This work will involve developing internal processes and structures to ensure gender equality, engaging senior women leaders to help recruit women for AI challenges, and sharing learning along the way.

ACTS: Strengthening the Capacity of AI4D Africa Scholarship Beneficiaries to integrate Gender Equality and Inclusion Considerations in their Artificial and Machine Learning Studies

This project aims to strengthen the gender equality and inclusivity capacity of AI and machine learning researchers by illuminating, and also visualizing, areas where there are gender equality lapses in AI studies in Africa so that relevant interventions can be designed. This will allow for a more GEI-sensitive research design, data collection process, data analytics, set of predictive models and the development of an African researcher community that is more conscious of gender and inclusion within AI studies. Activities consist of each research team reviewing their individual AI4D Africa Scholarship research study against Women at the Table’s <AI and Equality> Toolbox, reporting on observed lapses, and suggesting corrective measures in subsequent AI research.

CITADEL: Evangel’AItion: Spreading the good news about AI beyond the lab 

This action research aims to explore how marginalised groups, particularly women and girls, can be engaged in  the development of awareness-raising tools such as a video on the benefits of AI. This is based  on a citizen-driven AI solution to a community problem and this participatory, inclusive  and gender-sensitive approach involves organizing community  consultations and engaging community stakeholders in the research. The research team will work with students to develop AI solutions to certain community problems and will film the process as a means of raising awareness and increasing  engagement, collaboration and co-creation between marginalised women, young people and rural  communities with AI developers in a multi-disciplinary, innovative, responsible and sustainable mode

Favor Ceasar Wisdom (junior researcher), A Dolutegravir-Associated Hyperglycemia Computational Prediction Tool for People Living with HIV in Uganda

We extend our congratulations to the winners and we are looking forward to the impact of their projects on the African AI landscape.