Over the past few weeks, I have decided that the next 12 months will be my Year of Yes. This basically means that for the next 12 months I am the Yes Woman. I will say yes to things that I usually find unusual, or things that take me out of my comfort zone – both in my personal life and my professional life. This does not mean I won’t use the word ‘no’ – I still need to have boundaries.
As we all know, once you challenge the universe it gladly accepts. And boy, oh boy, did the universe deliver on its first challenge accepted.
Last week, I received a WhatsApp message from a client containing the following:
Are you free to come to the Forum in Bryanston at 8am tomorrow for fabulous event?
My initial reaction was, I am not planning on driving at all tomorrow; I also don’t know anyone and am not keen on the niceties at these type of things before the show starts. BUT, then I remembered the Year of Yes, and my response was: That sounds intriguing… sure. What is the event for?
The reply: It’s for the launch of rAInbow – an amazing ‘smart companion’ that uses AI to address domestic violence issues. It’s a Sage Foundation initiative.
Immediately, I was like, THANK YOU YEAR OF YES! I am so down for this. If you know me, you will know that I am all for female rights, equal access, and ending the abuse (in any way and form) against women and children. It has to stop. Little did I know just how mind blowing this event would be.
Here is the introduction to rAInbow from their Facebook page:
Hi! I’m rAInbow.
A smart companion, designed to reach millions who are in an abusive, controlling or unhealthy relationship. I launch on the 15th November 2018 in South Africa, where domestic violence affects 1 in 3 women. I’m not a real person, but rather a companion that uses AI to help people in difficult situations. Society can choose to turn a blind eye to domestic violence, or we can create a movement. A movement to help people understand abuse and empower them. We are all rAInbow.
Sage Foundation is a corporate initiative aimed at building a better future in local communities, by delivering opportunity and a sustainable future. Sage Foundation partnered with AI for Good and Soul City Institute for Social Justice to launch rAInbow. Funded by Sage Foundation, rAInbow aims to democratise access to information and support for victims of domestic violence, as well as their friends and family.
The minute the event started, I knew I was in my so-called happy place, a place where there is respect and understanding among fabulous, like-minded women, all who would like to see the rise of #fempower.
rAInbow was created by Kriti Sharma, global leader in AI and recently appointed Young Leader by the UN. You guessed it: a lady on a mission! Go check out her bio It’s astonishing, to say the least. This little bot is the brainchild of 5 women who, over lunch one day, realised they all have something in common: some form of domestic violence. 1 out of every 3 women, the stats say, right?
What caught my attention during Kriti’s talk was that the creators asked the actual real people the bot is aimed at about the technological solutions they need, and the stories they shared led them to using tech to create rAInbow. This is such a perfect example of how putting the user at the centre creates a solution that is not only valuable and usable but, in this case, potentially life saving!
Anyway, back to the event. One of the speakers was Josina Machel, you can find her story here. What got me right in the feels with this lady is the fact that she took this horrendous thing that happened to her and used the anger, sadness and all the emotions that come with it to become an activist, using her story and her voice to speak for those who cannot – for whatever reason – speak for themselves, as a result of gender-based violence.
What I learned from this event is that the Year of Yes will put me right in the way of things I need to experience; it will expose me to strong-ass women with a will to survive and, more importantly, women who are using their stories, their abilities, and tech to help those who cannot help themselves. They are asking the right questions of the right people to create solutions that are not only helpful, but life changing.
So my question to you is, what are you doing with your life to impact those around you? What are you doing to change the world we live in? Are you thinking about how you could possibly use technology to do this? Is it your Year of Yes, too?
If you have an idea, a thing, that you think could change the world for the better – or even just a small piece of the world – no matter what it is give us a shout today and we will help you bring it to life. If you are embracing the Year of Yes, share your stories with us.
A closing quote, that sums this absolutely perfect day up:
Raise your daughters to shout, to scream, to hold their heads up high for being themselves before society tries to teach them how to silence themselves, how to wear shame like a second skin. Let them taste the rebellion from the moment they are born and watch them become flames to start a revolution. – Nikita Gill