In retrospect, the MENASP 10th-anniversary conference in 2023 – the fifth edition of our biannual conference – encapsulated a rich tapestry of themes and topics that resonated with the profound shifts in the global landscape due to a worldwide health crisis and interconnected economic, social, political, and environmental challenges that fundamentally altered the examination of resilience to shocks and the considerations of inclusivity and sustainability in social policies across various contexts. The dynamic discussions during the conference unfolded across more than 30 sessions, both in-person and virtually, reflecting a commitment to inclusivity and accessibility.
The conference delved into multifaceted themes, ranging from challenges to social protection across different horisontal inequalities (e.g. gender, youth, poverty, disability, migration, and refugees) pertinent to conflict prevention to resilience to environmental and health crises. Speakers engaged in thought-provoking dialogues on issues such as power dynamics, persistent obstacles, and governance challenges to the sustainability of social policy, the impact of cultural factors on collaboration, and the ethical implications of research and networking practices. The exploration of these themes fostered a holistic understanding of the complexities inherent in the implementation of social protection across different contexts.
The conference hosted 252 scholars and practitioners from across the world who contributed their insights and expertise to the vibrant intellectual milieu. Notable speakers included Mr Younes Benakki (The General Secretary of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE), Morocco) and Dr Hania Sholkamy (The American University in Cairo) whose keynote addresses captivated the audience. The conference featured a multitude of sessions catering to various academic interests. From interactive workshops and panel discussions to research paper presentations, each session offered a unique lens through which to explore the conference themes. The carefully curated program ensured a balance between theoretical discussions and practical insights, providing a comprehensive experience for attendees.
In addition to the academic deliberations, the conference hosted special events that added a layer of celebration and camaraderie. The inaugural ceremony set a positive tone, emphasising the importance of collaborative knowledge exchange. An inspiring session was the 10th Anniversary Plenary, whose panel discussion on the achievements of the MENASP Network stimulated critical reflections about the way forward in the field of social policy. The event drew a diverse assembly of participants, both physically present and virtually connected, creating a global tapestry of perspectives. The diverse backgrounds and experiences of the panel enriched the depth and breadth of discussions.
Another hit was the ECR event, which hosted a myriad of mid- and early-career researchers and practitioners who shared their insights into the different real-time challenges they face in the labour market. The conference hosted Professor Alexandra Kaasch, editor of Global Social Policy, for a Q&A session where he shared valuable tips on publication opportunities and the potential for a special issue based on conference research. A closing ceremony marked the culmination of intellectual endeavours, acknowledging the contributions of speakers, organisers, and participants.
We share pride in the type of platform the conference offered for meaningful engagement, fostering a community committed to advancing knowledge, navigating ethical considerations, and understanding the nuanced dynamics of power in the field of social protection and social policy. The convergence of diverse perspectives and scholarly endeavours underscored the conference’s success in creating a space for dialogue and collective learning.
The MENASP Network was honoured to co-host the 2023 10th-anniversary conference with Mohammad V University in Rabat (Morocco) on 112-13 July 2023. As communicated at the time, we are pleased to announce that the call for papers to public conference proceedings is now upon until 1st March 2024. Interested applicants would submit a draft outline paper of 1500 words.
The call for papers is based on the conference programme description, and as such, applicants are free to choose the theme under which their paper fits. The first journal that we will target is Global Social Policy, and as such, it will be important for papers to consider how they address global social policy issues, for example, by referencing the SDG 2030 agenda, the challenges and opportunities of international policy transfer, or the influence of international donor agencies.
Decisions on the outline papers will be made in the early Spring of 2024. The selected authors will be invited to work collaboratively with Prof Yamina El Khirat and Prof Rana Jawad to submit a proposal to eligible journals, starting with Global Social Policy.