Winning entries span Eastern and Central African countries, will expand Common Voice’s open-source Kiswahili data set
(TANZANIA, KENYA, AND DRC | OCTOBER 18, 2023) -- Today, Common Voice is announcing the winners of its “Wanawake Mashujaa'' Competition — six essays and essayists that expand its open-source Kiswahili data set while also honoring outstanding women in East and Central Africa.
The winners hail from Tanzania, Kenya and DRC and were selected by a panel of African linguists. They will receive prizes ranging from $450 to $120 USD. Essays will be added to Mozilla's Common Voice text corpus to enrich its Kiswahili data set and broaden its gender diversity. They will also be published on the Common Voice website and on partners’ websites.
The “Wanawake Mashujaa” Competition — Kiswahili for “Brave Women” — called for written biographies of extraordinary women in local communities across Tanzania, Kenya, and the DRC. It was launched on March 8, 2023, International Women’s Day.
Mozilla Common Voice is an open-source initiative to make voice technology more inclusive. In recent years, Common Voice has awarded $400,000 to people and projects across East Africa leveraging its data set.
Says Rebecca Ryakitimbo, Mozilla Fellow who led the competition: “These essays expand Common Voice’s repository in an inclusive way: by spotlighting women, who are often overlooked and underrepresented in AI training datasets. The winning essays celebrate female social entrepreneurs, engineers, technologists, politicians, and community development changemakers across the region.”
Says Abdul Rahman, a competition judge: “It was a wonderful experience interacting with all submissions and getting to not only know heroic women who have constantly shaped our social spaces, but also to get a glimpse of the Kiswahili literary scene in East Africa. The submissions were a labor of love, a true testament to the fact that when young writers are given a chance, they can dazzle and entertain, mesmerize and surprise.”