Algorithmic Discrimination Initiative: Equality law Fellowships 2023

Deadline: March 5, 2023


The Equal Rights Trust is pleased to announce the launch two new Equality Law Fellowships. Our Fellowships are designed to support individuals interested in increasing their knowledge and experience in the field of equality law, while supporting us in developing and delivering our strategy to advance equality through law. Each Fellowship will consist of:

  • A financial award of £7,200;
  • A programme of continuous training, support and expert guidance on equality law from our team;
  • The opportunity to undertake supervised research on one of two exciting global projects

About the Equal Rights Trust

At the Equal Rights Trust, we work in partnership to advance equality through the law. We support civil society organisations and lawyers around the world in their efforts to secure the adoption and implementation of anti-discrimination legislation and we collaborate with international partners to develop understanding of the role of equality law in areas ranging from the fight against corruption to the regulation of artificial intelligence.

This is an exciting time for us. In late 2022, following a three year partnership with the UN Human Rights Office, we launched the Practical Guide to the Development of Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Legislation, the first definitive United Nations guidance on the laws which States must enact to meet their non-discrimination obligations under international law. In 2023, we will launch a new strategy to support those working to adopt these laws; strengthen the enforcement and implementation of equality laws; and develop equality law in response to new and emerging challenges. To help us deliver this new strategy, we are seeking to expand our team, grow our network and increase our impact.

About the Fellowships:

The Trust is launching two new Fellowships. One Fellowship, kindly supported by the Sigrid Rausing Trust, will form part of our programme supporting those working to secure the adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation. The second, kindly supported by Mary Kay Inc., will support our work to develop the application of equality law in the area of algorithmic decision making.

Each Fellowship has an estimated duration of six months. There are no fixed hours for the Fellowship, but to fully benefit from this opportunity, we would suggest that fellows should be available for at least three days per week.

Fellows will be selected through an Equality Law Essay Competition, the details of which are provided below.

Fellowship – Supporting Equality Law Reform 

Over the last 15 years, we have supported organisations, movements and coalitions to develop and advocate for comprehensive anti-discrimination laws in dozens of countries, from Armenia to the Philippines, and we’ve helped to secure equality law reform in places such as Kenya and Ukraine. In late 2022, we launched the Practical Guide to the Development of Comprehensive Anti-discrimination Legislation. Following its launch, 32 UN Special Procedure Mandate holders issued a joint-statement calling on States to use the Guide as a “catalyst to action”. As a key element of our new strategy, we seek to support those involved in efforts for equality law reform to use the Guide to develop and advocate for comprehensive and effective anti-discrimination laws.

We are seeking a Fellow to support us in identifying where and how we can have the biggest positive impact. The Fellow will undertake a comprehensive mapping of movements and initiatives for equality law reform; identify prospects and opportunities for the adoption of new laws; establish partnerships and collaborations with those at the forefront of reform efforts; and gather information on the kinds of support which those involved in these efforts need.

Fellowship – Algorithmic Discrimination Initiative

In 2022, we launched a new initiative focusing on the challenges and opportunities posed by artificial intelligence and algorithms for the enjoyment of the rights to equality and non-discrimination. Under our Algorithmic Discrimination Initiative, we aim to (i) gather evidence of cases or patterns of actual and emerging, anticipated, or potential discrimination arising from AI and algorithmic systems; (ii) connect national equality organisations with those working on digital rights and with global processes for developing regulatory and normative frameworks governing AI; and (iii) make the case for a proactive, precautionary and pre-emptive approach to addressing the discriminatory impacts of such systems through developing and promoting Principles on Equality by Design in Algorithmic Decision Making.

We are seeking a Fellow to join the Algorithmic Discrimination Initiative, providing research support as we finalise the Principles and compile evidence on patterns of discrimination arising from the use of algorithmic decision-making systems. The Fellow will also play a role in developing plans for raising awareness of and increasing adherence to the Principles through identifying opportunities for advocacy and developing communications and awareness-raising materials and programmes.


We’re looking for candidates with the following skills and experience:

  • Undergraduate degree in a related field such as law, international relations, social sciences, or humanities (Essential)
  • An advanced degree (postgraduate) in a relevant subject such as equality or international human rights law; or in the process of undertaking such a degree; or equivalent experience (Desirable)
  • Demonstrable understanding of, and interest in, international human rights law and equality law (Essential)
  • Strong research and analytical skills, in particular literature review and analysis (Essential)

Essay competition

1. Participants should submit an essay responding to one of the following questions, depending on the Fellowship applied for:

Supporting Equality Law Reform: Select any country which does not currently have comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and explain: From a legal and societal perspective, what would be the principle benefits of adopting such a law? What opportunities are there for reform, and what are the chances that such a law will be enacted? 

Algorithmic Discrimination Initiative: To what extent are existing international legal standards on equality and non-discrimination able to effectively address the risks of discrimination posed by AI?

2. Participants must submit an unpublished essay in English written solely by them.

3. The target length of the essay is approximately 3000 words. Essays that are shorter than 2500 words and longer than 3500 words will not be considered. Essays must be appropriately referenced using footnotes and should include a Bibliography. The Bibliography and references should not be included in the word count.

4. Essays will only be accepted in Word format. The document should follow the following formatting guidelines:

a.              Pages should be numbered.

b.              Cambria font, 11-point, should be used for the body of the essay and 10-point for footnotes/endnotes.

c.               Line spacing should be 1.5 lines for the body of the essay and single-spaced for footnotes/endnotes.

Any essay that does not follow the guidelines will be reformatted and points will be deducted.

5. Authors should not put their name or any identifying information in their essays.

6. Each participant must also include a curriculum vitae of no more than two pages in length, explaining the experience or interest of the author in equality law. CVs must be submitted as a separate document from the essay. CVs will be accepted in Word or PDF format.

7. Participants must submit their essay and CV to by 5pm UK time on 5 March 2023.

8. Participants are free to apply for both Fellowships. Where participants wish to apply for more than one Fellowship, they must complete both essay questions, which should be submitted as separate documents. Second essays are required to meet the same criteria – including word limits – listed above. We have also recently opened a new Fellowship on Land, corruption and discrimination, to which participants are also able to apply.

9. Participants who decide to apply for more than one Fellowship should indicate clearly in their cover email which other Fellowship they have applied for and state which Fellowship (if any) they would prefer to undertake. Successful applicants will only be selected to undertake one Fellowship.

Fellowship Scheme:

There is no geographical scope or limitation to this scheme. Participants from anywhere in the world are invited to enter the competition.  For the Supporting Equality Law Reform Fellowship, we particularly welcome applicants from countries which do not yet have comprehensive anti-discrimination laws.

All training and research activities associated with the fellowship will take place remotely.

We particularly welcome entries from participants who may have suffered disadvantage because of one or more protected characteristics.

Unfortunately, Fellows are not eligible for visa sponsorship under the UK’s Immigration Rules. Fellows will be responsible for any tax, national insurance or similar liability or contribution arising from receipt of the award in their jurisdiction.

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