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 explored 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. The conference emphasised the important role that social policies play in supporting social equality and economic prosperity, and as such looked back and reflected upon the achievements of the MENASP network since its establishment in 2013.  

Keynote Speakers:

Key Questions

These were some research questions the conference aimed 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 were delighted to have our keynote speakers, Dr Hania Sholkamy and Mr Younès Benakki.

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.

Mr Benakki, who was appointed Secretary General of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE) by His Majesty King Mohammed VI in December 2018, is a State engineer and a graduate of the Hassan II Agronomic and Veterinary Institute in Rabat. Additionally, he holds a Master’s degree in law and governance of public financial systems from the University of Paris I-Panthéon Sorbonne.

Special Sessions

10th Anniversary Plenary | 11 July 2023 at 5.00 pm (Morocco Time)

All conference delegates were warmly invited to a celebration reception marking the 10th anniversary of the MENASP Network on 11 July at 5 pm Morocco time (room and Zoom details are in the main conference programme). As part of this event, key organisers and collaborators of the network shared their experiences and reflections on the network’s achievements and looked forward to how it can continue to advance and shape the field of social policy in the Middle East and North Africa. The plenary involved a Q and A with the conference audience.


ECR Special Event: ECR Event Navigating a Career in Academia | 12 July 2023 at 12.30 pm (Morocco Time)

This lunchtime event on 12 July at 12.30 pm Morocco time (see the main conference programme for room and Zoom details) was open for all mid- and early-career researchers to discuss mentorship and support in navigating an increasingly complex academic environment and the job market. The session was interactive and mainly relied on the participation of ECRs. It explored a range of issues such as what factors affect your chances of getting a job in academia, and what matters the most: your academic record, nationality, gender or something else. Does the academic job market differ between the MENA region and other countries? How can you promote yourself as an early-career researcher in the academic job market?


Q & A with The Editor of Global Social Policy | 12 July 2023 at 5.00 pm (Morocco Time)

We were honoured to host the editor of Global Social Policy, Professor Alexandra Kaasch on 12 July at 5 pm Morocco time as part of a plenary Q and A to learn more about this leading journal and identify areas of interest for potential publication (room and Zoom details are in the main conference programme). The conference organisers hope to submit a special issue proposal to this journal based on the research presented at the conference. All conference delegates were invited to attend this session with Dr Kaasch and bring questions about getting published in a top-tier academic journal.

Key Information

  • 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 was free of charge. In-person attendees were responsible for their own travel and lodging costs. A limited number of small bursaries were made available to support attendance by early career researchers. 
  • Language: English. Arabic and French paper sessions were held where there was sufficient interest. All conference abstracts were submitted in English. 
  • Audience: Academics, policymakers and influencers, practitioners and NGO/CSOs relevant to social policy in MENA. 
  • Registration: All conference delegates were required to register using the registration link, including presenters, panel conveners, chairs, and discussants. Non-presenting attendees were encouraged to register early as spaces were 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.

Information for In-person Attendees

We were thrilled to have you join us for our conference! Your presence undoubtedly enriched our event, and we eagerly anticipate conitnuing having your valuable contributions.

Conference Venue:

Faculty of Law, Economic and Social Sciences / Faculte des Sciences Juridiques, Economique et Sociales (FSJES Agdal)

University Mohammed V University

Av. des Nations Unies

Agdal, Rabat


Information for Online Attendees

We were delighted to have you join us virtually for our conference! Your participation and insights undoubtedly contributed to the success of our event. We wanted to ensure that your experience is seamless and engaging.


The 10th Anniversary Conference of the MENASP Network was 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 were: