Empowering Women in Underserved Communities: How we helped Kwanele Build an AI WhatsApp Bot for Accessible Legal Information

Kwanele, a non-governmental organization (NGO) committed to promoting women's rights, recently embarked on a groundbreaking initiative aimed at leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) technology to empower women in underserved communities. Through a series of focus groups and workshops we successfully developed a dataset and language model tailored to the specific needs of these women, ultimately creating an AI-powered WhatsApp bot that provides accessible legal information about Protection Orders in simple language. This innovative project marks a significant milestone in bridging the information gap and fostering greater awareness of women's rights.

Understanding the Needs of Underserved Women
To ensure the AI WhatsApp bot's effectiveness, Kwanele initiated a comprehensive research and co-creation process involving focus groups with women from underserved communities in South Africa. These sessions, which we helped to facilitate, aimed to understand the unique challenges faced by these women and their specific requirements when accessing legal information. The focus groups explored language preferences, literacy levels, cultural sensitivities, and comprehension barriers, providing valuable insights for the subsequent development stages.

Developing the Tailored Language Model
Armed with insights from the focus groups, we trained a large language model (LLM) chatbot that catered specifically to the target audience. We used ChatGPT da vinci using the dataset collected using prompts and responses. The LLM was designed using customized Natural Language Processing (NLP) to communicate legal information about Protection Orders in a simple and accessible manner. This required careful consideration of linguistic nuances, cultural contexts, and potential literacy limitations.

The AI WhatsApp Bot: A Gateway to Legal Information
Once the LLM was created, we integrated it into an AI-powered WhatsApp conversational bot. This innovative solution acts as a user-friendly interface, enabling women in underserved communities to access legal information at their convenience. By simply messaging the bot, users can inquire about various aspects of protection orders, including their rights, the legal process, and available support services. The bot responds promptly and utilizes clear, jargon-free language, ensuring that the information is easily understood. It understands earlier interactions with the user to provide responses that are relevant to the context.

Award-Winning Empowerment
Kwanele's AI WhatsApp bot contributes to breaking down barriers that often hinder women's access to legal information. By providing user-friendly language and catering to the unique needs of underserved communities, the bot empowers women to navigate the legal system with greater confidence. It reduces reliance on costly legal consultations and increases awareness of available resources, ultimately enabling women to make informed decisions regarding their protection and well-being. Because of this, Kwanele won the 2nd Prize (and $30,000 in prize money) in The Mozilla Foundation’s Ethical AI Challenge in San Francisco in May 2023. We are very proud because the competition was so fierce - there were over 240 entries for this challenge from 46 countries.

The Impact and Future Plans
We are hoping that the implementation of Kwanele's AI WhatsApp bot will make a significant impact on the lives of women in underserved communities. The aim is to help users understand their rights and make informed choices regarding protection orders. We aim to further expand the bot's capabilities by integrating additional legal information and services, creating a comprehensive platform for women's empowerment.

The successful development of a ground-breaking AI WhatsApp bot tailored to the needs of women in underserved communities demonstrates the power of technology in promoting gender equality and access to justice. By providing accessible legal information through user-friendly language, the bot acts as a valuable resource for women seeking protection orders. We intend to continue to leverage AI and technology to bridge information gaps and build impactful technology for our clients.


Project Details