Student Prize

Welcome to ARI's Student Prize page!

Started in 2020, the competition provides an opportunity for young, up and coming voices to write about a variety of topics relevant to the MENA region in line with ARI's Areas of Work.



Mobilizing for women’s political participation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has suffered from divisions and tensions that have at times limited its ability to have an impact. These tensions emanate in part from different stances on state feminism, the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the “professionalization” of demands, and the question of engaging the private sector. Other divisions also exist along secular/Islamist fault lines and between generations of feminists. Increasingly, however, it is possible to see various networks trying to bring diverse actors and/or seeking to build bridges between women’s rights movements with other political movements demanding to be represented (from LGBTQI+, environmental activists to social justice groups). 

Focusing on one country case, or a specific effort or campaign, discuss how social movements (whether women’s rights movements or others) have sought to become more inclusive in who and how they mobilize to demand women’s meaningful political participation, as well as their success stories and obstacles they have encountered. Assess the case study as a basis to reflect more broadly on how different social movements can overcome social divisions when lobbying for feminist policies.  

In a policy op-ed of approximately 1,500 words, lay out how different social movements can overcome social divisions when lobbying for feminist policies. 


All essays are due 17 June 2022 and should be sent to the address: with the subject line “Student Essay Contest.” 

Please refer to the style guidelines below to write a strong submission.  


Essays will be judged by a panel on the strength and relevance of argumentation. The winning essay will be published in English, Arabic, and French on Arab Reform Initiative’s website and will receive a prize of 500 USD. 


Anyone currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate programme is eligible to participate. Essays can be submitted in English, Arabic, or French. Essays should be in the form of a policy-oriented op-ed (see below). 

Style Guidelines 

Policy-oriented op-eds aim to provide concrete steps towards dealing with a specific problem. Due to their short nature, flowery language should be avoided, and only brief context should be given for the situation.  

We are looking for a policy-oriented op-ed that addresses a very specific topic or problem, mostly an established situation that can be analysed. The best essays would include a strong analysis of a case study as well as a good discussion of how different social movements can overcome social divisions when lobbying for feminist policies. Authors should use short sentences, should avoid technical or scientific language, and should focus on writing a clear and easy-to-follow argument.  

The components of a policy-oriented op-ed include: 

  • The lead, which outlines succinctly the problem and the conclusion or recommendations. The length of the lead should not exceed 1-2 paragraphs. An excellent lead is one which goes straight to the core of the problem and summarises your main recommendation or approach. 
  • The body of the paper, which provides the proof of the author’s argument, based on evidence and on facts which are based upon research. Don’t use footnotes, favour hyperlinks. Include reference to a source in the text itself. 
  • The policy recommendations, which must be precise, realistic, and actionable. Suggest ways to address the issue/problem you have identified. Try to provide examples to back them up. 
  • Don’t hesitate to develop your own voice and use analogies, anecdotes, or unique examples to illustrate your points and add some colour to your piece.

Past Winners

Winner for 2021: Rory Quick on "How can activists best advance environmental reforms in MENA?"

Winner for 2020: Amine al-Sharif on "How can diasporas support democratic transitions in the Arab world?"