Student essay contest on women’s rights and feminist law reform

31 August 2023
August 31, 2023

Celebrating 50 years of advocacy for gender equality

The National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) is pleased to announce the launch of its student essay competition in honor of its 50th anniversary. Participants will be invited to a student conference on feminist law reform in late February / early March 2024 in Ottawa.

Theme: essays must relate to feminist law reform, to NAWL’s three priority areas for advocacy, or to their intersections:

  • Topic 1: Ending Violence Against Women: for example, analyze legal frameworks, strategies, and reforms that contribute or have contributed to addressing violence against women.
  • Topic 2: Reproductive Justice: for example, explore the impact of access to healthcare and reproductive rights on women’s equality and autonomy.
  • Topic 3: Women’s Rights in the Climate Crisis: for example, examine the impact of the climate crisis on women’s rights and propose legal solutions to address the gender inequalities that it exacerbates.
  • General topic: the Future of Feminist Law Reform: for example,
    • what does feminist law reform mean to you or why does it matter?
    • what are most important advancements to women’s rights in the last 50 years?
    • what are the priorities for feminist law reform in the next 50 years?
    • how or when is feminist law reform able to benefit all women, including women marginalized due to their race, Indigeneity, disability, gender modality, or sexual orientation?
    • how can feminist law reform contribute to decolonization?

In their essays, participants are encouraged to adopt a feminist and intersectional perspective on law reform, that is, an analysis that recognizes and takes into account how various oppressions (sexism, racism, transphobia, colonialism, ableism, speciesism, etc.) intersect and create overlapping and interdependent disadvantages for women and marginalized groups.

Eligibility: This contest is open to all law students as well as women’s and gender studies students. This includes:

  • students pursuing legal studies at the undergraduate (BCL, LLB, JD), masters (LLM) or PhD levels;
  • recent graduates of a law program who are not yet members of a law society;
  • articling students or students enrolled in bar school.

Additionally, participants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents, or hold a valid student or work visa.

Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.

Prize: The winner of the contest will receive a prize of $1,500 and an exclusive opportunity to present their essay at NAWL’s 50th anniversary event in February or March 2024. Second and third-place winners will receive prizes of $1,000 and $500, respectively.

Submission and deadline: All essays must be submitted by email to before midnight, Ottawa time, on Sunday January 14th, 2024. In your cover email, please confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria.
Students who submit their essay by the early submission deadline of November 30th, 2023, will be entered into a draw for a full stipend to travel to Ottawa and attend the student conference organized for NAWL’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Length: Essays should be between 1,500 and 2,000 words, including footnotes and references.

Language and format: Essays can be written in English or in French and should follow a standard academic format (font size 12, double-spaced, and using footnotes and references where necessary). Please include a cover page with your name, contact information, and educational institution, if applicable.

Originality: Essays must be original, unpublished works written solely by the contestant. They can be based on work the student has done or is doing for a class.

Publication: By participating in this contest, you acknowledge that NAWL reserves the right to publish and promote the winning essays on its website and in its communications. However, all intellectual property rights will remain with the respective author.

This contest presents an exceptional opportunity to showcase your unique perspective on feminist law reform and contribute to the ongoing pursuit of gender equality. Join us in commemorating NAWL’s 50th anniversary by submitting your thought-provoking essay.

For further inquiries or information, please contact

We look forward to receiving your submissions!

about NAWL
The National Association of Women and the Law is a not-for-profit feminist organization that promotes the equality rights of women through legal education, research and law reform advocacy.
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