The safety and security of women are critical to the spread of democracy, says Texas A&M University professor Valerie Hudson and, thanks in part to her efforts, Texas A&M has become home to the largest and most comprehensive database on the global status of women. The WomanStats Project,http://womanstats.org, helps researchers and policy-makers understand the link between the lives of women and the security of nation-states.
Hudson, a professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, is an expert in international security and foreign policy, and studies how gender, family, legal and related issues and the overall status of women affect political and economic organization, as well as conflicts.
“This resource has more statistical information than the World Bank or the United Nations,” said Hudson. She and her co-principal investigators of the WomanStats Project have published a wide variety of empirical work linking the security of women to the security of states which has appeared in such journals as International Security, the Journal of Peace Research,Political Psychology, and Politics and Gender.
For Hudson, the capture of 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria by the Islamic militant organization Boko Haram, illustrated the link between the status of women and national security.
“Boko Haram was surprised that anyone outside Nigeria cared about these girls, let alone that this action would create a worldwide storm,” said Hudson. “Girls are regularly sold as brides by their fathers, and women are considered chattel in that society. In practical terms, the subjugation of women in Nigeria fuels the creation of terrorist groups.”
Hudson’s extensive expertise in the relationship between the status of women and a nation’s security was recently recognized when she was selected to receive a Department of Defense (DoD) $900,000 Minerva grant, shared with three colleagues—Donna Lee Bowen and Perpetua Lynne Nelson from Brigham Young University and Rebecca Nielsen from Yale.
“This research will heighten DoD’s strategic forecasting ability and help them deal with terrorist threats like those posed by Boko Haram,” said Hudson, who holds the George H. W. Bush Chair at the Bush School.
“We know that women can only become active partners in building peace and preventing conflict when they are safe, and able to express their experiences and make their voices heard,” said Hudson. “Since women make up half the earth’s population, knowing what obstacles they face in various societies and communities is vital in developing international strategies to improve their status and assure peace,” she added.
Bush School Dean Ryan Crocker noted that Hudson’s research is bringing a new and important perspective to how the United States deals with nations where women have traditionally had few rights.
“Dr. Hudson and her colleagues are providing vital empirical evidence of the importance of women in bringing stability and peace to their nations,” Crocker said. “Her work informs our curriculum as we educate future diplomats and public servants, and provides important data for other researchers and policy-makers.”
Hudson’s most recent book, forthcoming in late 2014, is titled The Hillary Doctrine: How Sex Came to Matter in American Foreign Policy.
This article was originally published by the TAMU Times
You can support research at Texas A&M University’s George Bush School of Government and Public service with a gift of an endowment to the Texas A&M Foundation.
Jessica McCann ’07
Senior Director of Development