Women Leadership

RSCD Governance

The Situation

In India, recent reforms of government institutions have created space for women's political inclusion at an unprecedented scale. In local government councils, called Panchayats:
- One-third of all positions are reserved for women
- In some states as much as half the positions are reserved for women
- Evidence shows that women's presence in local government improves women's access to justice and public goods and reduces corruption

However, there is broad consensus that women presidents' political effectiveness is limited by their lack of political experience, information, and more generally by women's marginal position in local political networks.
What We Do

The Resource and Support Centre for Development (RSCD) is a Mumbai-based nonprofit working towards a society in which equal opportunities are available to women, enabling them to be partners in India's development. RSC currently: - Works with over 500 elected women presidents across the state of Maharashtra
- Offers trainings for current women presidents
- Connects women presidents with each other, and with women ex-presidents who share a wealth of practical knowledge

The project seeks to empower RSCD with mobile technologies that allow them to connect more closely with their trainers and with the women presidents. We also hope to connect presidents to each other. We believe that better connections will lead to more effective flow of information, create networks of support, and improve the effectiveness of women presidents.

How You Can Help

RSCD would like to create a knowledge-sharing platform for women presidents. The women presidents generally don't use the internet; they communicate primarily via voice calls and messaging platforms like WhatsApp, so this platform must be mobile-accessible. This would help women to seek information and guidance on important issues (e.g. making budget, handling drought, using the budget for disabled), enabling them to become more effective leaders.
Level 1: Populate the Database
RSCD already holds a lot of valuable information through its training materials and the combined knowledge of its network of women presidents. However, the size and unstructured nature of this information makes it difficult to query and find answers via phone. The first task is to work with natural language processing tools to extract and translate this information into easily-understood queries and answers, and to store the results in one central database.

Level 2: Create the Mobile-Accessible Platform
With the newly-structured and now-comprehensible data in your database, RSCD would like to build a platform to share this information on. Students will make significant design decisions here. This process will begin by an exploration of various Q&A platform options (e.g., wiki, Stack Exchange, Piazza, anything you find!), and population of the chosen platform using the database created in Level 1. Most importantly, it must be mobile-accessible, meaning that women presidents can retrieve answers to questions on the platform via voice or messages. Consider integrations with APIs such as Facebook Messenger or Google Actions. The platform should also include functionality allowing women to offer new answers to existing questions.

Level 3: Respond to New Questions
Armed with a powerful knowledge-sharing platform, RSCD would like to add functionality allowing women to ask new questions. Using natural language processing once again, you will determine if the question has already been asked on the platform. If so, redirect the user to existing answers; otherwise, create and list the new question. This decision process will involve additional design questions.

Recommended Skills
  • Interest in empowering women, international affairs, and social impact
  • Preferred familiarity with Python, databases, and using APIs
  • Interest in Natural Language Processing
  • Excitement to learn new things, solve challenging problems, make design decisions, and work in a small team!