As developed countries slowly slide into their new normal, developing countries like Pakistan (where a large majority of the population either lives in rural areas or urban slums) only begin to seriously face their deadliest and most alarming days due to Covid-19. And with this reality come new health, social & economic challenges.
"But often while accounting for these challenges, we tend to forget those bearing the toughest brunt of the pandemic - adolescent girls - especially those who are living in urban slums across the developing world."
Unfortunately, their new norm will be interrupted education, inequitable access to reproductive health products and services, digital disclusion, increased domestic violence, increased household chores & responsibilities, unemployment concerns and an information disconnect from crucial and life-saving Covid-19 information.
We feel children, especially girls, play an important role in our future & we want to utilise the power of technology to help them raise their voice, showcase their challenges, and empower them to make the best decisions about their health and well-being.
Our pivot aims to tackle the gendered implications of Covid-19 by:
Utilising the power of our pre-existing, localised and contextualised chatbot technology (see Coronabot English or Urdu) to educate adolescent girls on the topic, survey & collect important data that helps us understand & showcase girls' new reproductive and mental health needs on a data dashboard for policy-design & advocacy.
Train community leaders/lady health workers and build their capacity for Covid-19 education efforts & data collection. Partner with relevant government & non-governmental organisations like Unicef Pakistan and Robin Hood Army involved in ration drives in communities to deliver relevant & updated chatbot-based Covid-19 training.
Based on data collected on the needs of girls during Covid, build an interactive & engaging health and hygiene curriculum that lady health workers can continuously utilise in their communities post-Covid.
As data flows in (cumulatively and in an anonymised format) from surveys and community interventions, we plot it on our map and data dashboard.
We showcase key learnings, insights through articles, whitepapers, social media content and blogs for greater policy-level change and advocacy.
Considering we have been working with girls and women for the last three years using films, workshops, technology on taboo subjects, we have the domain expertise to make a successful pivot in this direction.
Our team consists of award-winning social entrepreneur, public health & community work specialist Saba Khalid, Fullbright fellow & machine learning engineer Jaya Rajwani and content creator and social media activist Musfira Taqdeer. Previously, we have been an MIT Solver team for 2019 besides winning some prestigious awards, grants, and competitions for our innovative ideas.
We have mentorship from digital transformation & AI specialist Christian Ehl, supported and endorsed by femtech founder Ida Tin, supported by The DO School team & community and have previously received an award by Vodafone for our innovative work.
We already see many chatbot innovations entered into this competition and have observed others over the course of a year, and we stand apart as we understand from experience that vulnerable populations especially girls often do not have direct access to tech & different mechanisms/delivery methods to distribute important information have to be tried out as opposed to rolling out a simple chatbot app or software. Having experience building chatbots, measuring their impact, connecting them to data dashboards to show knowledge gaps & identify health needs, gives us headway to pilot this new project in a month's time.
As female founders working in a small team, tackling Pakistan's most taboo subjects in hard-to-reach communities, our resilience and patience has been continuously tested and our resolve has shown through in difficult scenarios. As a non-VC funded social enterprise, we see this competition & grant as an opportunity to further build upon our impact, continue supporting girls, market our innovation, find new partners, learn from existing innovations and pivot meaningfully in a changing world.
Link to the survey we will put on our chatbot to collect relevant information:
A look at a mock dashboard that we would like to build that will keep updating with community based chatbot interactions:
All the data and news collected on Pakistani women's health problems and violations during Covid-19.