Focus at Four: On International Women's Day, an A&M project collects data to make change

Thinking of women's place in the world isn't a one-day-per-year kind of project for Valerie Hudson.

Photo: International Women's Day

But on this International Women's Day, she's happy to let the world know what her team's been up to.

"We discovered that one of the things that was lacking in this whole debate about women peace and security was hard data," said Hudson, a professor at the Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service. "Hard evidence."

That's when Hudson and her team of graduate students began to collect information on about 360 variables experienced by women around the world, from access to education to frequency of violence.

"We ask outselves in what ways are women subordinated," Hudson said, "and are there ways that we can move beyond that to empower women to a greater degree than we currently see?"

Hudson's theory is that security of women is linked to secuity of a nation as a whole.

"Whether we're talking about food security, level of terrorism within a country, if we're talking even about internal instability, we find that one of the very strongest determinants of that is how subordinated women are in society," Hudson said. "It's almost as if how you treat women becomes a school for then how the nation's leaders will conduct their affairs."

WomanStats keeps data on the United States, and Hudson says, the results are more concerning than a casual observer might think.

"In some ways we're pretty good: our laws look pretty good in terms of women," said Hudson. "But in terms of level of violence against women, whether women feel safe in the public square? These are dimensions in which we're really middle of the pack, to be honest with you."

For more from Hudson, see the video player above. To peruse WomanStats yourself, see the Related Links.