Women, By the NumbersJune 21, 2007 By Gib ClarkeThe breadth and depth of statistics available on the WomanStats Project, a new online resource for statistics on women’s security, lends strength to the website’s claim that it is “the most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women in the world.”
The amount of information on the website is staggering: it includes 110 countries (a total of 172 will be available soon) and 243 variables, providing a wide-ranging analysis of women’s global security situation. The variables fall under nine themes, including physical security, which covers health and violence; economic security; and maternal security, which includes topics such as maternal and infant health care and availability of family planning.
Fortunately, the WomanStats database is not only large, it is also easy to use. The interface is simple, allowing the user to sort by country, variable, year of data collection or publication, and data source. The tables that display the results of users’ data queries are easy to view and print. And the data and variables are presented in a much more comprehensive fashion than they are in many other data sources. Both official and unofficial estimates are available, as is more qualitative information, such as the existence of laws related to the statistics (for example, whether a country engages in forced sterilization or child bearing, or whether women are allowed to hold public office).
In addition to providing data tables, the site allows many of the variables to be mapped using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Three sample GIS maps are currently available; color-coded by nation, they display levels of women’s physical security, trafficking of women, and sex ratios (revealing countries with disproportionately large numbers of male children).
WomanStats is coordinated by five principal investigators from three universities: Brigham Young University (BYU), the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. One of the principal investigators, Valerie Hudson of BYU, contributed an article—”Missing Women and Bare Branches: Gender Balance and Conflict”—to the Environmental Change and Security Program Report 11.
I encourage you to explore this excellent—and free—resource. If you have any comments or questions about it, WomanStats notes that it is an evolving project and will seek to incorporate user recommendations (and additional data!).
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