International Policy Ideas Challenge 2020 - Challenge winners

Find out more about the 2020 International Policy Ideas Challenge.

Abdelhamid Benhmade
Africa, a source of growth for Canadian businesses

Abdelhamid Benhmade is pursuing his doctorate at the University of Ottawa, specializing in international development and the private sector. His thesis focuses on global cities and their role in international trade. He is also a research associate at Open African Innovation Research (Open AIR) where he contributes to academic work on entrepreneurship and innovation. In addition, he is a Francophone Africa project manager at Open African Innovation Research and coordinates the network’s scientific activities in Francophone Africa. Benhmade is a consultant for the Réseau québécois sur l’intégration continentale (RQIC) and On Think Tank (OTT). He aspires to follow in the footsteps of thinkers committed to freedom and justice. To this end, since 2010, he has been involved with the Assadaqua Association, which works to solve the economic, social and ecological challenges facing the Taghjijt oasis in Morocco.


Maude Jodoin Léveillée
In the age of digital activism, how can Canada promote gender equality in an innovative way?

Maude Jodoin Léveillée holds a Master’s degree in International Studies, and a Specialized Graduate Studies Diploma in international development and humanitarian aid management. She is now furthering her research interests with a PhD at the University of Montreal. Her thesis work focuses on the radical practices of "feminists" committed to the cause of women’s rights in Togo and highlights the digital innovations used by the new generation of Togolese women. As well as collaborating as a research assistant on various projects on the African continent, Maude recently supervised the data collection of close to 4,000 questionnaires as part of a survey on gender and socio-economic success in Burkina Faso. Her participation in several conferences and training periods abroad has improved her understanding of international development issues specific to sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, she specializes in the study of gender, feminism and women’s movements in West Africa.


Cristina Mattison – Lead Researcher, Kirsty Bourret – Collaborator
Grounding the Feminist International Assistance Policy in evidence to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights through partnerships with women-led civil society organizations

Dr. Cristina A. Mattison is a Fellow at the McMaster Midwifery Research Centre (MMRC) and an Assistant Professor, Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact at McMaster University. She obtained her PhD in Health Policy and MSc in Global Health from McMaster University. In her doctoral work, she was the first to use a health policy and systems approach to examine the roles of midwives globally across health and political systems. In a former role, Cristina oversaw the scientific aspects of and led the execution of evidence syntheses, facilitated citizens panels, and engaged in activities to mobilize research evidence to inform pressing policy issues. As a fellow at the MMRC, her research builds on her dissertation to understand the integration of midwifery into health systems. Cristina and Kirsty received a grant to co-conduct a study focused on measuring the impact of the Canadian Association of Midwives’ global projects. The research is grounded in feminist and anti‑colonial collaborative approaches to increasing the capacity of midwifery and improving access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.


Heather Tasker – Lead Researcher, Teddy Atim – Collaborator, Sylvie Bodineau – Collaborator
The Gender Equality and Peacebuilding Imperatives of Supporting Children Born of War

Heather Tasker is a PhD Candidate in Socio-Legal Studies at York University and a graduate student researcher with the SSHRC-funded Conjugal Slavery in War (CSiW) partnership project. Her research focuses on gendered conceptions of justice in post-conflict contexts, international humanitarian, human rights, and criminal law for sexual and gender-based crimes, and the impact of humanitarian assistance on engagements with law. Heather’s research has focused on legal developments, engagement with justice mechanisms, and rights to reparations for survivors of forced marriage and their children. Her dissertation examines lived experiences of law and policy in relation to sexual exploitation and abuse within the MONUSCO peacekeeping mission. Heather also contributes to the Relationships Between MONUSCO Peacekeepers and Local Congolese Communities Project (PI Susan Bartels, Queen’s University). This project focuses on children born to peacekeeper fathers in the DRC and provisions for their rights and support.


Jelena Golubović – Lead Researcher, Sina Fazelpour – Collaborator
Predicting and Preventing Armed Conflict: The Future of AI in Canadian Peacekeeping

Jelena Golubović is a PhD candidate and instructor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Simon Fraser University. She specializes in retributive violence, ethnonationalism and the civilian experience of war, with a regional focus on the former Yugoslavia. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. Her doctoral research was funded by a Joseph-Armband Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Her research has been published in Anthropological Quarterly, Ethnicities, and Studies in Social Justice.


Kaylia Little
Northern Lights: A Framework for an Arctic Clean Energy Network

Kaylia Little is an Energy Council of Canada Energy Policy Research Fellow and doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo. She has a background in international development, including completing a Master of Development Practice, which seeks to connect theory to the practical application of international development. Currently, her research focuses on the gender‑energy nexus, and she is most interested in making the energy transition equitable for all. Kaylia has a strong record of academic excellence and experience working both in Canada and abroad. As a former policy analyst with a non‑governmental organization, she has first‑hand experience in the policy and legislation development process in Canada. Her research has been presented at national and international conferences.


Marshall Palmer – Lead Researcher, Kevin Budning – Collaborator, Paxton Mayer – Collaborator
Doing More With Less: Confronting COVID-19’s ‘Double Squeeze’ in the Developing World

Marshall Palmer is a second year PhD candidate at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. His research focuses on foreign electoral intervention and he serves as the managing editor of the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal. He is a graduate of the University of Oxford and the London School of Economics. He has previously worked as an international security analyst for NATO and as a political risk analyst for Oxford Analytica.


Meera Karunananthan
An Intersectional Feminist Framework for Assessment of Human Rights Compliance of Foreign Aid and International Assistance Programs in water and sanitation

Meera Karunananthan is a fourth year doctoral candidate at the University of Ottawa. Her PhD research investigates struggles for access to water among racialized women living in precarious housing conditions in peri‑urban settlements of Cape Town. As the Director of the Blue Planet Project, she works with organizations around the world to promote the human rights to water and sanitation. She has won several academic and professional awards recognizing her work as a water policy advocate. She has authored several reports and articles that have been translated and published in well-respected outlets including The Guardian, Geoforum and Open Democracy. Her academic work builds on almost two decades of collaborative work with international NGOs, trade unions, environmental groups and grassroots feminist organizations.


Dr Sarah Shoker – Lead Researcher, M. Ramy Shoker – Collaborator
Using Artificial Intelligence to Predict Internet shutdowns

Dr. Sarah Shoker is a postdoctoral fellow in political science at the University of Waterloo, where she researches the social and policy impact of emerging technologies. She is a SSHRC 2020‑2022 postdoctoral fellow, and the winning beneficiary for the 2019‑2020 University of Waterloo Trailblazer Postdoctoral Fellowship. She is the founder of Glassbox, a social impact firm that trains stakeholders in government and the tech sector to identify how social values are translated into AI systems. Her work is often requested by government policymakers, including Global Affairs Canada, Public Safety Canada, and FiveEyes partner agencies like the CIA, FBI, CSIS, and MI5. She strives to use her research to bridge the gap between stakeholders who often have very different ideas about AI’s role in society. Dr. Shoker’s PhD research on military drones and autonomy in military systems was nominated for the Canadian CAGS/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Award and is currently under contract with Palgrave MacMillan, with publication scheduled for 2020.


Zac Wager – Lead Researcher, Karen Cook – Collaborator, Markus Hellborg – Collaborator, Emily Standfield – Collaborator
Leading Canada’s Space Frontier: The Next Expansion of the OST

Zac Wager is currently a graduate student at the Balsillie School of International Affairs (Wilfrid Laurier University) pursuing a Masters of International Public Policy. He received a BA (Hons) in Global Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University with Minors in Economics and Psychology. He has done extensive academic research and writing in several fields including peace and conflict, environmental policy, emerging space technologies, international law, and sustainable economic development. He was recently a participant in the Global Affairs Canada’s Graduate Fellowship Program focusing on the merits of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and processes of mining in space.

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