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Its all about Artifical Intelligence

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The subtlety and complexity of human brain is reflected in the vast range of reactions that we exhibit in response to emotional and intellectual stimuli. Scientists and thinkers, who have come up with myriad ground-breaking discoveries in the past, have skillfully tapped into the vast power of inter-connected neural networks in their brains, which seem to be otherwise unattainable achievements.

 

However, waves of technological advancements and innovation have led to the emergence of what can be termed as “End of Work”( term coined by US economist Jeremy Rifkin in 1995) scenario. Indirectly, it means that a vast number of people aross the world can become unemployed, thanks to the overwhelming force of automation, which has begun to outperform manual labor in a number of tasks, thereby resulting in labor displacement. Although the risk is offset by growth in productivity through capital accumulation and creation of new jobs, the fact that automation can improve the speed , quality and cost of available goods and services across many domains, makes it an obvious alternative for human work.

 

In the context of 21st century, at the heart of automation, lie two path breaking technologies by the name of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Although there are key differences between the two terms, the actual relationship between them is more of complementation. Simply put, artificial intelligence can provide a machine with an ability to learn through various experiences from multiple task executions. These experiences train a machine to learn from various kinds of inputs and maximize its performance on a task, thereby enriching its knowledge base. Artificial intelligence, demonstrated through machine learning, has the ability to dramatically improve our world, in terms of simplifying or even handling complex tasks.

 

Automatable tasks such as those related to transportation, data processing and collection and back-office work, have already started witnessing skills on artificial intelligence, being brought to the table. The potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning in driving in driving a change in the socio-economic system, has been exhibited in the from of some path-breaking innovations such as autonomous vehicles, computer-aided material design systems, robots and other devices that run on artificial intelligence (AI) enabled softwares designed to provide effective solutions for various concerns.

 

The impact of AI differs across sectors, with certain tasks and roles being more prone to automation, as compared to others. Given the complex interplay of commercial, social and legal factors that determine the nature and extent of impact of AI, the likelihood of tasks offering wide scope for improved outcomes under a certain set of conditions , increases.

 

While adoption of AI has emerged as one of the most overwhelming forces driving societal change, there are different perspectives with respect to the nature of occupations that come under the umbrella of automation by AI. While a general idea exists that routine tasks performed in highly structured and predictable environments can be easily moved to an AI enabled execution platform, a recent  incident of a news article being created a machine leaning algorithm without human guidance, compels experts to look into more that AI can offer. The change enabled by the adoption of AI in industrial services can be defined as a sequence of events, starts off with displacement of work-force and dampening of wage growth for less educated workers. Eventually, this culminates into a certain proportion of work getting displaced by automation and emergence of new job oppurtunities which demand expertise in tasks such as data analysis and interpretation ans sound working knowledge of machine learning tools. These experts include data scientists, machine learning enginners and research scientists. The competencies on data analysis and interpretation software are of great value in development of business intelligence.

 

Apart from bringing to the table, benefits of learning from newly created job roles, AI also promotes employee engagement in organizations, thereby making them rise meteorically in their workplaces. Communication in the corporate landscape can be analyzed using AI driven softwares, which enable companies to identify behavioural cues that give an insight into employee efficiency, work satisfaction ndex and their ability to work in teams. Overall, this gives an understanding of the employee communication in real-time, which also brings forth missing links that need to be sorted out, in order to boost the productivity of employee and organization.

 

While a certain group of experts seems to be increduluous about the impact of automation technologies on employment, other experts have their brows knitted in concern for the displaced workers, who deserve to receive assistance for their healthcare and education, even if they are unemployed. With increasing competition for non-routine manual labour coming into picture due to workforce displacement , AI enabled technologies are introducing a work culture, which is characterized by less secure and legally uncertain jobs. However, on the contrary, looking at the way humans are outperformed by AI based working models in many aspects of productivity, one cannot overlook the response of employment and economy to technology enabled automation. Additionally, with changes in working-earning patterns and shifts in income distribution across demographics coming into force, its hard to be oblivious to the impact that AI is creating on the global economy.

 

However, the impacts of AI and automation differ across countries, with certain regions facing specific type of effect as compared to others. While many studies have been conducted to study the nature of this impact, one expectation seems to be common among all of them. They definitely foresee a future equipped with capabilities offered by artificial intelligence , with the likelihood of it becoming an indispensable functional tool in the lives of people. Tech-giants like Microsoft have already started conducting training programs in AI and cloud technologies for students from across the country. A recce is also being done on the ethical implications of using AI, by institutes like TUM (Technical University of Munich). Therefore, one is most likely to witness fair, transparent and powerful technologies under the umbrella of AI and automation, in the near future.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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