Women's Rights in the Middle East


The Kelly Day Endowment on the Status of Women and Human Rights in the Middle East funds research and programs at the Baker Institute and abroad. Its main objective is to follow and support Middle Eastern women in their socioeconomic roles.

Understanding the cultural beliefs of the region and perspectives of Middle Eastern women, as well as their record of achievement in their respective countries, is critical to the support of their roles as advocates of human rights and key participants of socioeconomic change.

The program is designed to help policymakers better predict how broader participation of women in the public and private sector might impact regional attitudes and promote societal progress.

The endowment has featured a number of prominent speakers, such as:


Current Research

Mahmoud A. El-Gamal, Ph.D., Baker Institute Rice scholar and Chair in Islamic Economics, Finance and Management at Rice University, continues work on his research study, “Bank-insured ROSCA for Microfinance: Experimental Evidence in poor Egyptian Villages,” published July 01, 2011. This paper proposes an alternative microfinance model with the objective of poverty alleviation and the rebuilding of a viable middle class. The model is built on Islamically acceptable principles and tests its performance against Grameen-style microcredit in a “laboratory experiment in the field” conducted in poor Egyptian villages. The next phase is to extend the existing proof of concept to a full-fledged field experiment to test the practical applicability of the model as a prototype credit union.

Christopher Bronk, Ph.D., fellow in information technology policy, released the paper “From Tunis to Tunis: Considering the Planks of U.S. International Cyber Policy, 2005-2011” in May 2012. In 2011, social media played an important supportive role to the massive popular uprisings that started in Tunis and spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Bronk examined the relationship between cyberspace and international policy and the role of social media, the Internet and women in the popular uprisings in the region.


Advisory Board

  • Mrs. Susan Baker
  • Mrs. Kelly Day
  • Mrs. Paula Douglass
  • Mrs. Ghada Irani.


Founders’ Circle:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Eli Broad 
  • The Honorable James A. Baker, III, and Mrs. Baker 
  • Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Day
  • Mr. and Mrs. Sam P. Douglass
  • Mr. Bradford M. Freeman
  • Mr. and Mrs. Marc Stern
  • Mr. and Mrs. John Hotchkis
  • Mr. Robert Maguire III
  • Wilson-Thornhill Foundation


The Ghada Irani Discretionary Fund

Established in recognition of Mrs. Ghada Irani’s important contributions to the Kelly Day Endowment. This fund complements the broader goals of the Kelly Day Endowment by supporting research and activities that promote new and innovative ways to better understand and improve upon the policies and practices that impact the life of women and human rights in the Middle East today. In addition, the fund also sponsors special projects in the form of microgrants that the Kelly Day Endowment’s advisory board has identified as meaningful.

           International Day of the Girl Child: The Education of Girls in the Middle East
           Oct 11 2013
           Ariana Marnicio
Conference Report -- The Arab Awakening and Gender: Challenges and Opportunities for Women
Jun 26 2013
Marwa Shalaby
From Tunis to Tunis: Considering the Planks of U.S. International Cyber Policy, 2005-2011
May 21 2012
Christopher Bronk
Unveiling the Revolutionaries: Cyberactivism and the Role of Women in the Arab Uprisings
May 18 2012
Courtney C. Radsch
Bank-Insured RoSCA for Microfinance: Experimental Evidence in Poor Egyptian Villages
Jul 01 2011
Mahmoud A. El-Gamal
The "Woman's Issue" in Context: Deframing the Discourse on Middle Eastern Women
May 20 2007
Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned