Earlier this year, an African consortium created by IPAR, CSEA and Sunbird.AI allowed us to be part of the creation of a new network initiative. Our role: provide the initiative with our Inclusive Networks Model.*
A lot has happened since the first blog post five months ago. First and most importantly, the initiative has been renamed from RAIGE to Gender and Responsible AI Network (GRAIN). Gender and other contextual exclusionary factors are central to the networks’ work in Sub-Saharan Africa that will act with a focus on intersectionality and responsible AI policy. By responsible, we mean equity in data use, algorithm creation, frameworks, and policies for AI practice. The GRAIN network will address the cross-cutting issues of AI and gender, bringing together organizations, universities, and hubs based in Sub-Saharan Africa that are either already active or interested in becoming active in the field of AI and/or gender inclusion.
Gender is a cross-cutting issue that challenges all of us. GRAIN will be able to address many of the gaps in AI and gender in Sub-Saharan Africa. For example, there is little to no disaggregated data on gender in general, and this gap is even more glaring in sub-Saharan Africa. There is a gap between data on gender and artificial intelligence. This results in a biased assessment of society’s needs. GRAINS also aims to address the low representation of women in the Artificial Intelligence professions. They remain a minority, resulting in biases and the reproduction of social inequalities at the level of algorithms, which leads to generating problems in gender issues instead of providing solutions. In addition, GRAIN will contribute to the construction of frameworks for the responsible use of artificial intelligence and better consideration of AI and gender in governance.
GRAIN aims to create a new medium for collaboration and partnership among academia and institutions interested in AI and/or gender issues. With AI’s role in digital and economic development, a network that amplifies women’s voices at the local and regional levels, identifies their challenges and proffers pragmatic solutions for responsible AI use and adoption is critical. For the first two years, GRAIN will focus its activities on research and building up its network of members.
The first call for research is launched. Researchers and organizations working on cross-cutting issues around AI, gender, and development are welcome to submit their applications until December 11, 2022. Link to call details here.
After the initial strategy workshop in June 2022 in Senegal, we are supporting the team behind GRAIN throughout the coming months by sharing all the essential learnings we have made with co-creating and facilitating the Flying Labs Network to launch the GRAIN network in the summer of 2023. We will keep you posted on how our first Inclusive Networks Model adoption and adaptation by another organization and for another purpose than the Flying Labs Network is evolving.
GRAIN is supported by IDRC and Sida and is part of the AI4D Africa initiative.
* We define “Inclusive Networks” as networks that: