IGF 2020 WS #359 Building a Feminist AI Research Network


Organizer 1: Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Speaker 1: Aleksander Tarkowski, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 2: Caitlin Kraft-Buchman, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Joana Varon, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 4: Laurent Elder, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Renata Avila, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

FEMINIST RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: What would feminist research methodologies look like in AI? How can feminist methodologies result in different approaches to AI in developing countries? What questions would emerge, who would now be included, how would they be engaged, with what epistemologies? How could this methodology influence the knowledge that was developed? DATA COLLECTION: Where does traditional data collection go wrong? From a feminist point of view, what would inclusive data collection look like Before, During, After data is gathered? What would be a methodology to create this? How could governments (and other actors) ensure / facilitate ? SOCIAL PROTECTIONS: How do social protections work in the developing world? And which ones specifically affect women and girls? How is bias mitigated or amplified by underlying social protection assumptions, or development aid assumptions and in AI / Automated Decision-Making systems? What would an ADM social protection system look like if designed with a feminist perspective ? What are private sector uses of ADM in developing country contexts that are discriminatory/biased? CULTURAL NORMS: What are the combinations of norms, history, and procedure that perpetuate ways of working and that have led to amplification of existing inequalities? How do these norms constrain or promote patterns of behaviour in communities/organizations generally, and AI / tech organizations specifically? What are the forces and environments necessary for norm change for AI sector outcomes, and the AI sector itself? How can the dynamics of norm change be incorporated into a feminist agenda for AI?

We are at a critical turning point. In order to innovate and thrive in a rapidly changing global environment, new norms are needed. Particularly urgent given the scale at which Automated Decision-Making (ADM) systems and machine learning are being deployed, we need Affirmative Action for Algorithms, to correct real-life bias and barriers that prevent women from achieving their full participation and rights in the present, and in the future, we invent. That is why Global South researchers are coming together to build an alliance to study and then implement the research and policies we need ahead.


GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


Together with International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Gender at Work, and the Alliance co-led by Ciudadania Inteligente and Women at the Table, we will officially launch a Global South feminist AI network expert group. The network of experts will aim to connect cutting edge feminist research and researchers in data, computer science, machine learning, economics, urban planning, and social sciences to discuss how to leverage AI for women’s rights, exploring opportunities to drive new innovations, methodologies and practise in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Ultimately, the aim of these sessions will be to define a research agenda, with a particular focus on low and middle-income countries.

Expected Outcomes

We will want to focus on and explore the question of how change happens: Multidisciplinary conversation and collaboration Inclusive Data Collection and use Design approaches Technical fixes Policy, recourse, regulation Institutional change, norm and organizational change Mobilization and activism Beginning with a start-up understanding of what we mean by a “feminist approach” Focus on power relations Rights of women, poor and other marginalized groups Inclusion Focus on change as well as description Challenging patriarchal assumptions underpinning standard research methodologies about what is knowledge and how it is generated

The space will be open to short presentations followed by a roundup of questions.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The norms of AI are being definined now and the space the network is building will immensely affect it in all regions of the world.

Relevance to Theme: Inclusion of women and data to back gender inclusive policies is more necessary than ever.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: Twitter questions and surveys.