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MENA FAIR HUB at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)-African Union AI Policy Dialogue in Paris (March 2024)

By: A2K4D Team

As the Middle East and North Africa Hub (MENA) hub of the Feminist AI research network (f<a+i>r) A+ alliance,  the Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D), at the American University in Cairo’s School of Business, is building a MENA wide feminist AI network. This network brings together multidisciplinary stakeholders that understand responsible AI and data for Development and/or are in a position to influence policy and can work together on driving AI to advance gender equality and inclusion in MENA. The hub is focused on supporting Feminist AI initiatives where multidisciplinary teams are building Feminist AI solutions in key development areas such as education as well as natural language processing in Arabic. 

A2K4D also recently launched the MENA AI Observatory for responsible data and AI in the region, supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The MENA AI Observatory  serves to coordinate efforts across the region and raise the visibility and impact of MENA research and experiences pertaining to responsible, feminist AI and data in global debates and policy-making. The Observatory aims to promote a grounds-up approach that emphasizes local experiences, community engagement, and inclusion in all aspects of data collection and AI systems development, and to raise awareness and fill gaps in knowledge on the responsible use of data and AI in a way that is in line with the realities of the region.

 

On March 5th  and 6th 2024, at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)-African Union AI Policy Dialogue in Paris, A2K4D’s Associate Director for Research, Nagham El Houssamy,  moderated a session titled  ‘Catalysing AI for women’s empowerment in Africa’.  She presented  the Center’s mission as the MENA FAIR Hub of the Feminist AI Research network and the MENA AI Observatory. Bringing the voice of Egypt and MENA to this Pan African dialogue, El Houssamy shared the Hub’s efforts in network building and supporting initiatives fostering technology for gender-transformative change.  

The session brought together African Union representatives and experts from the region as well as AI developers who brought experiences from the continent in the development of responsible AI solutions.  Panelists included Rachel Adams, Director; African Observatory on Responsible AI, Peter Addo, Head of Emerging Tech Lab; Agence Française de Développement, Linda Bonyo, Founder & CEO; Lawyers Hub, and Linda Bonyo, Founder & CEO; Lawyers Hub. The panelists discussed the state of gender equality and AI in Africa, by shedding light on the related challenges such as built-in bias and discrimination in AI systems and opportunities to come as they pertain to AI technologies being leveraged to empower women through economic and social inclusion. 

This session was recorded and featured in a public blog post after the event for International Women’s Day: https://oecd.ai/en/wonk/empowering-women-africa?fbclid=IwAR0tlb0fO4tY3N15TprpzHhRz53igfJqGv0lRFWZqaZDtzBGNMZPSVXl1ZU_aem_AUENkwqk7p0UjIany47ppoU2_nMi-utllz1giGWyIHtbLTqJ7QQ_9bwiuUwOFrImquERptVDxpaynyNkfmvII-CV

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