Kids watching Raaji

Saba Khalid+ Jaya Rajwani – Raaji

Date grant awarded: March 2019

In most communities across Pakistan, girls aren’t allowed to discuss reproductive health, menstruation and contraception, are shamed for their curiosity, or given answers that are unhelpful and incorrect. Lack of knowledge and unhygienic materials/practices are significant factors for menstruating girls not going to school, gender inequality and poor health.

Our solution is an AI-powered chatbot called Raaji to help equip young girls across Pakistan with the knowledge they need to understand the facts about menstruation, learn how they can manage their periods using healthy practices and be more empowered to stay in school. Designed for use by young girls at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ in Pakistan, the Raaji chatbot is voice-enabled, speaks local languages and is trained to have conversations about hygienic menstrual practices, biological facts and related societal myths.

The Raaji chatbot can also help girls to get access information about proximal health care resources or get connected to human support networks. Girls are introduced to Raaji chatbot through an animated video series, in which we tell localized, engaging and informative stories about a female empowerment superheroine that teaches young girls about taboo topics like menstruation, sexual health and female empowerment

As a journalist, blogger and human rights activist, it always frustrates me that my country Pakistan is among the worst performers on gender equality. I would like to change this depressing statistic for Pakistani girls in rural and urban centers. I’ve seen one of my childhood friends, a progressive minded working mother, murdered and her family never receiving any justice and it has always pushed me to disrupt the status quo.

Through athe $1000 grant, we were able to talk and start a conversation about one of the most taboo topics in Pakistan at a time when child abuse cases were alarmingly rising. We created an animated episode on harassment, cycling and self-defense. This work was shown and appreciated globally and locally and was screened at the Bafta in UK, in New Delhi and World Summit Awards 2019 in Lisbon.

This larger grant helps us continue the technical and piloting that goes behind launching and scaling the chatbot Raaji but also allows us to test learning outcomes by developing a game within our app.

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