Crisis and Continuity: Towards Resilient, Inclusive, and Environmentally Sustainable Social Policies in the MENA Region

Since the last MENASP conference in 2019, the global context has shifted dramatically with a global health pandemic and related economic, social, political, and environmental crises rendering the study of resilience to shocks, and the inclusivity and sustainability of social policies in all contexts, a pertinent field of study. This 10th Anniversary Conference will explore the shifts in social policy design and implementation in the MENA region; how social policies relate to social cohesion, human security and socio-economic crises; and the changes in social policy in the last 10 years. It will also look forward to the important role that social policies play in supporting social equality and economic prosperity, and as such will celebrate and reflect upon the achievements of the MENASP network since its establishment in 2013.  

Keynote Speakers:

Key Questions

These are some research questions the conference aims to address:

  • Causal relationships: How does social policy support social welfare in the MENA region? Does it lead to any adverse outcomes?  
  • Meaning and design: How can social policies be more inclusive of citizens and residents?  This may cover policy discourses, public debate, eligibility criteria and take-up of services.  
  • Political will: How can policy actors in MENA societies mobilise political support and resources for social protection from governments, international actors and civil society groups to undertake timely and effective conflict prevention? Where are citizens and residents located in this process?  
  • Effectiveness: What methods of social policy and social protection work well to enhance the social welfare outcomes of citizens and residents? What are priority areas for capacity-building to improve social policy governance?  
  • Institutionalization: How can procedures and policies for anticipating and preventing risk factors to social welfare be integrated into the normal functioning of governments, and international governmental and non-governmental organisations in MENA countries, some of which are affected by conflict?  

Key Topics

  • Social Protection
  • Social Care
  • Disability
  • Global Crises
  • Social Tensions and Conflict Prevention
  • Ageing and Older People
  • Poverty and Inequality
  • Social Policy Financing
  • Gender
  • Health
  • Youth
  • Education
  • Formal and Informal Employment
  • Shock-responsive Systems
  • Environment and Climate
  • Social Exclusion
  • Social Insurance
  • Children
  • COVID-19 Impact
  • Social Cohesion
  • Social Assistance
  • Migration and Refugees
  • Policy Analysis and Change

Keynote Speakers

We are delighted to announce our first keynote speaker, Dr Hania Sholkamy. Dr Sholkamy is an Egyptian anthropologist who holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences at the University of London. She earned her BA and MA degrees from The American University in Cairo (AUC) and currently serves as an Associate Research Professor at the Social Research Center of AUC. With over a decade of experience in social protection issues, Dr Sholkamy has played a key role in designing and piloting the cash transfer programs of the Egyptian government while serving as a special advisor to the Minister of Social Solidarity. She is a strong advocate for feminist social protection and has campaigned for women to receive welfare and pensions in their own right, rather than as dependents. Additionally, she served as the regional coordinator of the Pathways to Women’s Empowerment Research Consortium in partnership with the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex, United Kingdom.

Key Information

The conference agenda will become available in 2023.

  • Dates: Tuesday 11th – Wednesday 12th July 2023 
  • Host: Moroccan Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEA), Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco 
  • Format: Hybrid (online and in-person)
  • Cost: Participation in the conference is free of charge. In-person attendees are responsible for their own travel and lodging costs. A limited number of small bursaries are available to support attendance by early career researchers (details to be announced shortly). 
  • Language: English. Arabic and French paper sessions may be held if there is sufficient interest. All conference abstracts must be submitted in English. 
  • Audience: Academics, policymakers and influencers, practitioners and NGO/CSOs relevant to social policy in MENA. 
  • Registration: All conference delegates are required to register using the registration link, including presenters, panel conveners, chairs, and discussants. Non-presenting attendees are encouraged to register early as spaces are limited.  

Moroccan Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEA)

Conference Host

The Moroccan Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEA), the first national initiative of its kind, was launched by Mohammed V University in Rabat (UM5R), in partnership with the National Center for Scientific and Technical Research (CNRST), Ibn Tofaïl University, Kenitra (UIT) and the International University of Rabat (IUR) on the Moroccan side, and the Francophone University Agency (AUF) and the French Network of Institutes of Advanced Studies (RFIEA) on the other side. It is a space for the exchange of ideas and experiences and the promotion of scientific research in the fields of human and social sciences and the other fields of research directly related to them.

IMEA welcomes researchers and established scholars in different schools of thought from all over the world for a period extending from 3 months to 10 months for a stay on the basis of a research project for exchange and scientific collaboration with Moroccan local researchers so as to promote research and involve young researchers in scientific productions with a scientific impact through seminars, workshops, conferences and roundtables. IMEA seeks to bring together international and Moroccan researchers to dialogue, collaborate and develop research projects related to global, regional and local crucial issues and themes.


The 10th Anniversary Conference of the MENASP Network is organised in the framework of the MENASP-CP project led by the MENASP Network (University of Bath) in partnership with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). Funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Global Challenges Research Fund, the project brings together a host of UK and international research leaders and partner organisations to undertake an ambitious programme of cross-disciplinary innovation and capability development in the governance of social policy in the Middle East and North Africa region. The conference partners are: