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NOMINATIONS OPEN: Journalism for an Equitable Asia Award 2020-21

20 November 2020 - 7 February 2021

Theme: Inequality crisis and the pandemic

Asia, just like the rest of the world, is grappling with COVID-19. Despite tremendous economic growth and advances in healthcare, technology, and elsewhere during the preceding decades, we are struggling to overcome the pandemic and the resultant economic and social fallouts. As of now, there’s no end in sight and no direct path to recovery, with experts predicting human progress could be set decades back by the time the crisis ends.

Like with any crisis, the worst impacts are brunt the people left-behind the most. Impoverished communities, daily wage workers, women caregivers, migrants, those living in congested and underserved urban slums, elderly, differently-abled, and refugees and displaced people have been hit harder. Not only have such disadvantaged groups faced more exposure to the disease, but they’ve also felt the worst of the economic fallout. If current trends continue, more people could die from starvation by the end of the year than from the pandemic. Women and children have faced increased violence at home during the lockdowns.

Before the pandemic hit 1.2billion Asians were struggling in or near poverty, and our continent was home to 2/3rd of the world’s working poor. Early estimates suggest that a 20% loss of income would push hundreds of millions more people in South Asia and East Asia and Pacific into extreme poverty or to the brink. The situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Inequalities, not just between people, but also between nations and regions, have become visible. Many nations in our region and elsewhere have paid a hefty price – in lives, in GDPs, and in social stability by excluding communities. To tackle the pandemic where no one can be safe in isolation and where we can only be safe if all of us, our systems must change to be inclusive.

Disparities between countries and regions in public healthcare systems, inclusive social protection, and other public goods have been evident in the outcomes achieved by the nations in fighting the pandemic. Investment in public goods – healthcare and social protection – have proven successful in keeping COVID-19 at bay. A key takeaway is to increase such investment.

To build back better, more resources must go to building up public services like education and socio-economic solutions that favor the poor, disadvantaged groups, and small businesses. Beyond the pandemic, such systemic change is essential to tackle any future crises – natural or man-made. In addressing inequality and ensuring the wellbeing of people, the climate crisis is also a priority that must be addressed.

In fighting the pandemic, vigilance and restrictions on Asian’s freedoms of movement, speech, and other rights have been imposed. While some restrictions and tracking have helped fight the pandemic, others have been arbitrary at the least or aiding and abetting authoritarian regimes and allies at the worst. Justice and inclusion cannot take place if people don’t have the right to stand up for their rights, wellbeing, and progress. Vulnerable people like refugees and migrants have been subjected to random raids and rounding up by authorities, and they must too have a strong voice and spaces to defend their rights.

As a voice of the people, journalists have the skills and visibility to draw public attention to gaps and loopholes in the basic social infrastructures. Across Asia, journalists have reported on the plight of people who’ve been suffering injustice, discrimination, and exclusion to create social empathy and engagement for progress. Journalists have and can influence the policymakers and action leaders in governments, businesses, and among the general public.

Journalism for an Equitable Asia Award aims to recognize and encourage more journalists to write for a fairer Asia that works for all its people.

The award will launch onsite or online* in several countries in South and Southeast Asia: Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

*Should the COVID-19 pandemic still persist in the early part of 2021 where travel and face-to-face meetings are not possible, then online sessions such as webinars will be held.

Criteria for Nomination

Journalists are eligible for nomination if they meet the following criteria:

  • Written English* articles of minimum 650 words in length published in print or digital platform (Any written medium or public platform is eligible given the fulfillment of all the other criteria)
  • Journalists writing two or more pieces published on the theme of inequality crisis and the pandemic from 31st January 2020 to 7th February 2021 will be eligible
  • The nominated article(s) should cover how vulnerable communities across Asia are facing challenges from COVID-19, but go beyond to include structural issues such as inequality, poverty and dysfunctional governance from lenses such as economic inequality, women’s rights, public services, taxation, climate justice, etc. They may also discuss practices and policies that contribute to building a fairer Asia

* Journalists may also submit articles published in other languages with a mandatory English translation.

Nomination Process

  • Awards nominations can be submitted online: https://bit.ly/36lPkDX
  • Journalists themselves, readers, media institutions or interested others such as civil society and academia may submit nominations. 
  • Each valid nomination must contain the name of the journalist, verifiable details of the published article(s) (links), their media affiliation(s), the contact information (Email, WhatsApp/line, phone) of the journalist. 
  • While they are required to submit proof of two published articles, they must also indicate which one they’d prefer to be considered for the award.
  • In case online links are not available they can submit the scanned articles (translations) as pdf documents. 

Award Timelines

Nominations Open20 November 2020
Submissions Deadline 7 February 2021
Award Ceremony24 March 2021

Judging Panel

The Judging Panel will be made up of 5 people media and inequality experts, and will include representation from the Asia Centre, Oxfam International, and independent experts. 

Judging Criteria

Thematic Relevance
Social Relevance
Value Alignment
Does the article tackle issues of inequality?Does the topic address a concern relevant to society? Does it advocate for a more equitable society?Is the article well researched and evidence-based?
Is the topic relevant and important to the country/region concerned? Does it accurately reflect the affected communities’ voices and concerns?Does it tackle inequality through the lenses of helping/empowering those worst affected?Is the article and analysis well structured and rational?
Is the discussion of the issues well supported by evidence?Does the topic identify causes leading to the specific inequality and what can be done to address the issues?Does the article evoke a call for action?Is the article presented in a way that is easily understood by the reader?


  • The top 3 winners will receive cash awards and will be recognised at the Award Ceremony.
  • The top 10 journalists* will be invited to participate in the Journalism for an Equitable Asia Forum following the Award Ceremony to be held in Bangkok.
  • Top 5 journalists from each country will receive certificates recognizing their work. 

*  Depending on their ability to participate. 


20 November 2020
7 February 2021
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