Radicalisation and counter-radicalisation: A gender perspective

21-04-2016

Terrorism resulting from radicalisation and violent extremism is a serious threat to European security. Part of the complexity of these phenomena lies in the fact that there is neither a single pathway to radicalisation nor a single terrorist profile. From a gender perspective, women's radicalisation and involvement in violent extremist groups remains relatively under-estimated as there is still a general view that terrorism almost exclusively concerns men. However, recent studies indicate that around 550 Western women have travelled to ISIL/Da'esh-occupied territory, whilst a new report on European foreign fighters suggests that 17% of them are women. The role of women in counter-radicalisation is more widely acknowledged, although the focus tends to be confined to women as concerned family members. While the influence of mothers is highlighted by many practitioners, women's role in prevention goes beyond close family circles, extending to other capacities such as policy shapers, educators, community members and activists. Women's empowerment, be it through legal, financial or cultural means, thus becomes essential for tackling the root causes of extremism and defeating radicalisation. Although a gender aspect has not been systematically applied in security strategies, several experts advise the adoption of a gendered approach to counter-radicalisation policies.

Terrorism resulting from radicalisation and violent extremism is a serious threat to European security. Part of the complexity of these phenomena lies in the fact that there is neither a single pathway to radicalisation nor a single terrorist profile. From a gender perspective, women's radicalisation and involvement in violent extremist groups remains relatively under-estimated as there is still a general view that terrorism almost exclusively concerns men. However, recent studies indicate that around 550 Western women have travelled to ISIL/Da'esh-occupied territory, whilst a new report on European foreign fighters suggests that 17% of them are women. The role of women in counter-radicalisation is more widely acknowledged, although the focus tends to be confined to women as concerned family members. While the influence of mothers is highlighted by many practitioners, women's role in prevention goes beyond close family circles, extending to other capacities such as policy shapers, educators, community members and activists. Women's empowerment, be it through legal, financial or cultural means, thus becomes essential for tackling the root causes of extremism and defeating radicalisation. Although a gender aspect has not been systematically applied in security strategies, several experts advise the adoption of a gendered approach to counter-radicalisation policies.