Core23Lab is a Mozilla Common Voice awardee. We spoke with Jean Mwimbi, founder and project manager of the organization’s Haki des femmes, a voice-enabled chatbot that will help women in the Democratic Republic of Congo better understand and exercise their legal land rights

Women in the DRC at a Core23Lab event. (Courtesy Core23Lab.)
Women in the DRC at a Core23Lab event. (Courtesy Core23Lab.)
  • Most communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have patriarchal structures, leaving women with little decision-making power

  • About 70% of the world’s cobalt (valuable for producing electronics) comes from the DRC, leading to a long history of land conflicts and corruption

  • Though there are laws in place that allow women to be landowners, many women are not aware of their existence or nuances, and there are also barriers to getting proper land documentation

  • Core23Lab created the voice-enabled app Haki des femmes (“women’s rights”) in Congolese Swahili, designed to provide women with the information and legal advice they need to ensure their legal land ownership rights

The Issue

The DRC has a long history of conflicts over land, with corporations and investors competing with indigenous and local communities over territory and valuable natural resources. The DRC’s court system also suffers from high levels of corruption, and judgements often favor the powerful and influential – almost always men. In individual land disputes between men and women, women also largely depend on underpaid, overworked public defenders. Through surveys of women in the DRC’s Katanga and Lualaba Provinces, Core23Lab found that many women don’t inherit land because they never had legal marriages to confer these rights in the first place – largely due to high marriage license fees.

The Approach

Core23Lab set out to survey Congolese women’s knowledge of land rights, identify areas to advocate for changes, and create the country’s first chatbot (Haki des femmes) and digital repository to help women access legal information to assert those rights. On this past International Women’s Day, Core23Lab founder and Project Manager Jean Mwimbi and his team ran an outreach project for women who did not yet have legalized marriages. The project started the process of legalization as a first step to ensuring their land rights. The program has since received hundreds of requests for assistance. Mwimbi has witnessed the unfair treatment of women when it comes to land rights. “I’ve seen women who own land barely compensated by mining companies compared to their male counterparts, and I’ve witnessed women in my community, family, and church being thrown off lands they have worked for years after the passing of their husbands,” he said. “I want a better world for my wife, sisters, and mother when it comes to land ownership, and this is where it starts.”

Core23Lab is one of eight grantees in Mozilla’s 2023 - 24 Common Voice Kiswahili program, which funds projects leveraging the Kiswahili language and voice technology to increase social and economic opportunities for marginalized groups in Kenya, Tanzania, and the Kiswahili-speaking Democratic Republic of Congo. These grants are supported by the Gates Foundation in collaboration with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the German development agency GIZ, as a response to a gender-conscious and community-centered approach to tech development. Core23Lab used the grant to do surveys identifying the knowledge gaps about land ownership rights among women, to collect and validate data, and to build the chatbot.

What Does Success Look Like?

“When more women feel empowered to own, inherit and control land by knowing their rights and legal avenues.”


“I am motivated by women leaders in my community, especially one of the chiefs we have worked with in this project – the chief of Chabula. She is the only woman chief in the mining provinces of DRC, and she makes important decisions over the land there. She is not only strong, but also has a great sense of leadership.”

Mwimbi’s Four Most Beautiful/Useful Words in Congolese Swahili

Mambo - problem

Mapendo - love

Bantu - people

Salama - peace

“Because I hope for peace and love among the people in my community.”