“Women are frequently seen only as victims of violent extremism. But in reality, women play multiple roles, they are on the frontlines of prevention and response. They lead civil society organizations and bolster community resilience. Promoting women as agents of peace recognizes their contributions to peacebuilding and prevention of violence and upholds respect for the human rights of everyone in areas afflicted by violent extremism…”Alia El-Yassir UN Women Europe and Central Asia, Regional Director
Gender mainstreaming is often overlooked when it comes to matters of violent extremism. This is despite the fact that recent years have seen the rise in participation of girls and women in terrorism and radicalization alike.
The integration of women and girls into CVE programs can only successfully happen when a discussion of human rights for women and girls is comprehensively addressed. This is particularly because violent extremist activities around the world increasingly target women and women’s rights. Using sexual and gender-based violence, they terrorize communities and destroy the social fabric.
Some of the examples of good practices that can be adopted include but are not limited to;
- Include women and girls and gender mainstreaming in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of all policies, laws, procedures, programs and practices related to CVE.
- Ensure that CVE efforts counter women and girls’ involvement in violent extremism, including by identifying gender dynamics in radicalization leading to terrorism and preventing it among women and girls.
- Recognize and promote the different roles of women and girls as critical stakeholders in CVE, including in developing more localized, inclusive, credible, resonant, and effective approaches.
- Protect the human rights of women and girls, including their equality, non-discrimination, and equal participation, and ensure that CVE efforts do not stereotype or instrumentalize, women and girls.
- Prevent and address the direct and indirect impacts of violent extremism and terrorism on women and girls.
The involvement of women in consultations, design and implementation of policies/programmes to combat V.E can ensure that all aspects are addressed – including gender differences in drivers, impact and roles in relation to violent extremism. Women can be critical interlocutors with government institutions, in particular between communities and law enforcement agencies, helping to identify security concerns and the needs of communities. If women are included in citizen advisory groups/municipal Security Councils they can alert security actors of gendered safety issues, and women’s participation in community safety commissions and other law enforcement oversight entities can strengthen accountability.