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Links between violent extremism and violence against women

February 21, 2020 at 1:09 PM

From the NZFVC

In September 2019, UN Women published a Guidance Note that explores the use of gender mainstreaming in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE). In the foreward, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: 

“In my visits to affected areas, I have seen first-hand how sophisticated these groups are in exploiting existing gender inequalities and ideas around traditional or ‘ideal’ roles for women and men in their recruitment materials and propaganda.” 

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka went on to say that the UN response needed to: 

“… correspond to that sophistication, tactically integrating gender and women’s rights in P/ CVE design, implementation and evaluation. This means ensuring that our programming and support appropriately reflect the different needs of women, men, girls and boys. It means addressing the systemic vulnerabilities that women face. At the same time it is vital to recognize how the intersection of multiple facets of women’s identities – including their age, ethnicity, education level, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability – can increase vulnerability for some, but also provide women with valuable insights into preventing violent extremism in their communities. It also means working to eliminate harmful masculinities and promote positive behaviours, and removing the barriers to women’s participation and leadership in prevention and reintegration work.” 

The United Nations Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (2015) contained recommendations specific to gender equality and empowering women including:

  1. Mainstream gender perspectives across efforts to prevent violent extremism
  2. Invest in gender-sensitive research and data collection
  3. Include women and other underrepresented groups in national law enforcement and security agencies, including counter-terrorism prevention and response
  4. Build the capacity of women and their community groups to participate in prevention and response
  5. Ensure funding projects that address women’s specific needs or empower women

United States organisation Futures Without Violence has stated:

“As much as the subordination of women is at the forefront of violent extremists’ strategy, advancing gender equality has not become a cornerstone of the architecture of response.  In fact our reactive response to violent extremism has shifted much of our energy toward military and technological strategies and away from development and human rights initiatives which directly impact the strengthening of the community in general and women in particular.” 

Researchers at Monash University’s Gender, Peace and Security Centre (Australia) have been examining gender-based approaches to preventing violent extremism and terrorism, writing:

"... we have explored the relationship between attitudes characterised as ‘misogyny’ or hatred of women, acts of violence against women and girls, and violent extremism. In three countries in Asia, we have found that support for violence against women and hostile sexist attitudes are both stronger predictors of support for violent extremism than religiosity, which is commonly perceived to be the major root cause."

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