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AI-mediated Storytelling Infographic Tools to Combat Stigma of Reproductive-Care in the Global South

Abstract:

The objective of this project is to co-design culturally appropriate AI-mediated infographic tools for reproductive care leveraging local Global South’s knowledge and long-practiced indigenous visual communication techniques. Existing works show that many women in the Global South face many challenges in their reproductive journeys and turn away from reproductive well-being support offered by modern healthcare practices because of the stigma. Building upon established partnerships and findings from previous projects in Bangladesh, we will engage with women in low-resource settings in Bangladesh to further investigate women’s stigma associated with reproductive health as well as their existing reproductive well-being challenges and practices. Additionally, we will engage with artists in the local communities to co-develop culturally appropriate visual infographic cues, tools, and techniques to design AI infographic tools to support and improve women’s well-being in the Global South.

Project Goals:

Broader goal: To co-develop a culturally appropriate AI framework and tool to address the stigma associated with women’s reproductive care in the Global South. 


Specific goal: To co-design AI-mediated reproductive-care infographic tools with Global South women in different countries based on their long-practiced local morals, cultural practices, and indigenous techniques of narrative visualization.

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A witch in Kazipur village showed several example Jantras used for Tantra in their witchcraft practice. (Clockwise from left) Jantra for solving marriage issues, fo witctcraft training, for dismissing effects of bad spells, and for better health.

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A rural women from Mandartola village showed us her great-grandmother’s Nakshi-Katha explained that the wheel from the top middle of the main Nakshi-Katha what has the monetary records of 16 of the productive lunar cycles (8 months) that year,

Background:

The stigma associated with reproductive health and sex-ed is inevitable in the Global South. This risks many Global South women’s health as they reject many of the modern health and well-being supports offered by their local government and other organizations as their support and care policies do not understand the socio-cultural practices of the women in question. Existing works show that many women turn away from reproductive well-being support offered by modern healthcare practices because talking about or seeking help for such care is a taboo in their society, many women do not understand the modern terminologies, and many of the care practices do not reflect nor recognize the values women in the Global South hold. Like many other countries in the Global South, this problem is still prevalent in Bangladesh. Our existing research shows that many women in these areas are particularly stigmatized about birth control, pregnancy support, fertility service, contraceptive use, and menopause care and less frequently seek modern healthcare support. When seeking help, women find it difficult to navigate across community perceptions, sociocultural practices, norms, and relationships, as well as across the fragmented and distributed nature of healthcare services. All of these challenges jeopardize women’s reproductive health that have profound long-term consequences for parents, children, and society in general.  


We will co-develop an AI framework to help address the stigma related to reproductive well-being in the Global South. We will leverage local knowledge and infographic practices on visual data curation and visual narratives. We will integrate rural Bangladeshi visual communication methods to co-develop AI-mediated infographic well-being tools for women to support their reproductive health and decision-making practices to improve their overall well-being We build on decolonial-AI literature and pluralistic co-design. 

Initial Fieldwork and Findings:

We engage with rural women and artists in Bangladesh, using ethnographic techniques. We employ participatory observations, contextual inquiries, storytelling, interviews, and focus-group discussions in this regard. Additionally, we frequently engage with them in codesign sessions to brainstorm ideas. 

Our Initial findings bring in knowledge of local Bangladeshi intelligence of data curation, visual narratives, and infographics from rural arts and crafts, including visual witchcraft, Nakshi Katha, and Hindu Idol making. In an ongoing work, we are engaging with women on their daily-life reproductive care information queries and use of digital platforms and their interpretability. We use this understanding of their data literacy in designing culturally appropriate AI-infused infographics.  

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A group of rural Bangladeshi female villagers participating in Focus Group Discussion with the ethnogrpaher and PI Sultana.

Selected publications and activities: 

  • [CHI 2023Abstraction and semiology in constructing visual narratives,

  • [FAccT 2022] Big data and AI in Global South [Workshop], 

  • [Mozilla Festival 2022] Decolonizing AI [Workshop],

  • [ECSCW 2022] Fieldwork reflections on pictorial consent,

  • [CSCW 2021] Rural fact-checking procedure for misinformation [🏅Diversity and inclusion recognition]

  • [CSCW 2020] Contrasting grammar of modern data visualization and local traditional visualization

  • [ACM Interactions 2020] Rural faith-based practice in combating COVID-19,

  • [CHI 2019] Witchcraft and HCI: Morality, modernity, and postcolonial computing,

  • [CSCW 2019] Faith-based and situated knowledge in rural healthcare practices.

Project Team:


Our core team includes the PI, CoPI, local partner NGO Rural Reconstruction Foundation (RRF), and our existing field connections in rural villages in Bangladesh. 


PI Sharifa Sultana is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, USA. She is a human-computer interaction (HCI) designer and critical computing researcher. She engages with justice concerns, including designing decolonial data-driven systems and AI, computing for alternative rationalities and moralities, and gender justice in computing. She deploys a variety of qualitative, quantitative, and design methodologies to probe and address social justice agendas in low-resource, marginalized communities. She has more than 7+ years of experience conducting ethnography, co-design, and deployment with rural villagers in Jessore, Bangladesh. She builds and evaluates computing technologies, including accessible, low-cost, and intelligent mobile and web applications to improve the quality of their life. Multiple of her research projects on gender justice and well-being in the Global South were published, presented, and won awards in ACM SIGCHI and CSCW. 
 

Karrie Karahalios is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is noted for her work on the impact of computer science on people and society, analyses of social media, and algorithm auditing. She is co-founder of the Center for People and Infrastructures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 


Salim Reza is the Director of the Microfinance Program at the Rural Reconstruction Foundation (RRF), Bangladesh, and also Sultana’s long-term research partner in rural Bangladesh. He has been working with RRF for 17+ years. Some of the other notable World Bank-supported projects led by Reza include the Sustainable Enterprise Project on flower cultivation (SEP), the Low Income Community Housing Support (LICHS) Project, and the Recovery and Advancement of Informal Sector Employment (RAISE). With RRF, he has developed extensive experience in directing community healthcare projects, particularly on midwifery training for rural women, adolescent healthcare, pregnancy care, and family planning. He directs RRF’s operation in 34 districts (among 64 districts) in Bangladesh. 


In addition to RRF’s support team, we have local Bangladeshi software developers and field researchers affiliated with local Bangladeshi industry and research institutions who have been conducting research with us in partnership for many years. Their contribution will be sought in different stages of this project. 

 

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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, USA

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Rural Reconstruction Foundation, 

Bangladesh

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