Ladysmith Collective leverages WhatsApp to build a platform to connect vulnerable women to the services they need while also generating actionable data about GBV at the Venezuelan Colombian border.
Tell us a bit more about Ladysmith and how you combine your research with the project Cosas de Mujeres?
JULIA: Ladysmith is a feminist research collective. We help international organisations collect, analyse, and then take action on gender data. We're in the middle of this gender data revolution — which sort of implies that with more information, with more data, we'll be able to tackle gender equality more directly. We think at Ladysmith, that depends on the data that you have — is it quantitative or qualitative?
Much of the work that we do helps these international organisations think about the way that they're collecting data, what kinds of data, how they're ensuring they're not leaving people behind — how to ensure they're interpreting it and then analysing it in a way that speaks to women's experiences.
Dr. Julia Zulver on combining data and research into something more action-orientated.
JULIA: And so that's how the project was born. This understanding, in part, came out of the research I was doing at the time. It showed that, although everyone and everyone in terms of various stakeholders, people in the international community, at the government level, in civil society, and organisations knew, when I was asking them questions about violence in this nexus of migration from Venezuela and armed conflict, that violence against women was at the time, at an all-time high. It was extreme, and everyone would say, 'Oh, we know that's the case.'
JULIA: We have all this anecdotal evidence, or we've heard the stories, but we don't necessarily have a database, or we don't necessarily have it recorded, documented in any systematic way.
It was this perfect fit in terms of being able to create a project that both satisfied women's needs in terms of information, getting information about where they can go in case of facing violence, and then also finding a way to document and record this gender data. And to do this in a way that comes from women themselves and that accurately reflects their experiences. Then COVID happened, and my fellowship actually got put on hold, so I could dedicate much more time to it.
JULIA: It's felt personally super satisfying to have this academic research that I've also been doing now have this sort of project element to it that feels as though I can see or feel as though I'm engaged. In a way that impacts women's lives in a bit more concrete way, obviously, academia has its influences, it has its place in terms of influencing policy or creating knowledge, but being able to be involved in this project has felt super meaningful in terms of being able to translate that research into something more action-oriented.
Why did you choose to collaborate specifically with Turn.io?
JULIA: We know that Turn.io as a company, or how you operate, is based on this question of impact - it's really based on this idea of social justice. So as non-tech experts ourselves, we've also really loved working with an organisation that has the same understandings that we do in terms of what these interactions with our users should be like, how to make them human, how to make them warm. We now obviously have a tech person on our team, and he does a lot of support with the tech portion. Being able to work with you and others who have this similar version of a more just world has been gratifying in terms of the way that we want to work.
JULIA: We found that if we have a question or if we have feedback that those have been received super well and you know as well as we do, there are other services out there that allow for this chat at scale, but we really wanted to grow with an organisation that shared the vision that we had, and would also understand on the tech side, what some of our limitations or some of our criteria for how we interact with our users might be.'
Pippa Yeats, Founder and Product manager, Turn.io
On working with Ladysmith on the Cosas de Mujeres project
Fast-paced development — Providing crucial information at scale
From television to a chatbot — An openness to keep learning and exploring