Gender and Violent Extremism

  1. Why gender matter?  

Preventing and countering violent extremism is an essential topic on the policy agenda of many governments over the world. However, understanding the gendered dimensions of violent extremism, concerned with preventing and countering violent extremism has fallen short. We need to pay greater attention to the impact of gender on identities, roles and relationships between men and women in society. The gendered roles of men and women in any given society are not static and change over time. Globalization, violent conflict and periods of transition often alter prescribed gender roles. During political transition, the roles for women are often a site of contention. In the case of extremist groups, gender ideals for women limit their human rights, mobility and empowerment. For example, many of the extremist groups that call themselves “Islamists” call for a return to traditional values and clearly sex-separated roles, whereby men occupy and dominate the public space and women inhabit the domestic and private space while being subservient to men.

 

  1. About resolution 1325

It was adopted by women and peace and security on 31 October 2000. The resolution reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. Resolution 1325 urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts. It also calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict. The resolution provides a number of important operational mandates, with implications for Member States and the entities of the United Nations system.

 

  1. The Political Economy of Sexual Violence

Here is a story about a girl name Bangura . As a source of financing, sexual violence has become a key tool in the “political economy of terrorism,” She said. Yet the treatment of women remains a “collateral issue rather than a central concern” in fighting it. “Protecting women must be at the heart of any global counter-terrorism response, this is a security imperative.” On a recent trip to Iraq, Bangura heard devastating stories of sexual violence from Yazidi women who escaped their captors in ISIS, also known as ISIL or by its self-adopted moniker “Islamic State.” One teenager had been forced to marry 15 men, some for as few as three days. Some were soaked in gasoline and burned for refusing to cooperate. A girl sold as a sex slave in the markets of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of the self-declared Islamic State, is likely to change hands five times, she said. A Christian or Yazidi girl aged 10 to 20 fetches $120, according to an official ISIS price list Bangura cited. Her U.N. office is working on a multi-faceted strategy to address sexual violence in the Middle East. The approach includes mobilizing international political commitments, ensuring women a central role in developing counter-terror strategies, and designing frameworks for prosecuting aggressors.

Despite gaps in understanding of why individuals turn to ideologically driven violence, research suggests empowerment of women pays off in the context of countering violent extremism, said Robert Berschinski, deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.  Resolution 1325 doesn’t mention the issue but the peace and security agenda it embodies, calling for protection of women from sexual violence in armed conflicts and women’s participation in politics and peace processes, ties directly to women’s roles as victims and perpetrators, supporters and inhibitors of violent extremism, he said.

“Whether seeking to make peace agreements more durable, or stopping radicalization before it begins, addressing root causes and legitimate grievances matters a great deal,” Berschinski said. “You can’t do that if you exclude women, and more broadly civil society, from these discussions.”

Anwarul K. Chowdhury, who led the campaign for Resolution 1325 as Bangladesh’s ambassador to the U.N. when the country held the Security Council presidency, argued that “we would not have to worry about countering extremism if women had equality in decision-making’’ on how to prevent it. He pressed the case for pushing more of the 193 U.N. member states to join the 48 that have approved the National Action Plans called for in Resolution 1325 to outline how a nation intends to meet the goals of the measure.

  1. Militarism to Impose Views

Militarism and militarization are deepening in the region, while a fluid global arms trade makes it easier for extremists to impose their views. “It is a reality that politics and, more so, security are a man’s world,” Chowdhury said.

Carla Koppell, the chief strategy officer at USAID, said the 15th anniversary of Resolution 1325 is the first chance the U.S. government has had to update its National Action Plan by evaluating and building on progress in integrating women, peace and security objectives across the full range of conflict-related programs. That provides a “perfect entry point” for thinking about gender issues as applied to countering violent extremism. Here are her takeaways:

  1.     Develop and adopt stronger protections and support for women and girls who are vulnerable to and victims of extremist and insurgent groups.
  2.     Expand and enable counter-insurgent networks among vulnerable women and youth.
  3.     Expand research on better protection strategies and on how women can systematically provide early warning, help de-radicalize former extremists and join in hindering recruitment.
  4.     Involve women in the security sectors of government and international bodies.
  5.     Leverage better social media that elevates women’s voices.
  6.     Bangura framed the human dimensions of the challenge:

“Imagine a young lady, very religious, father [a] professional working 16 hours a day. Her mother is a housewife. She comes from school, goes into her bedroom – [she’s] not allowed to go into places her peers go. She has a computer in her room, access 24 hours a day. We’ve all been young girls. She wants adventure, she wants to do something that counts, she wants to be doing something. A lot of time, these are the girls recruited. They are lonely. They are caught between two worlds, and the family wants to keep them in the old [one]. When we look at root causes — why is it educated girls from good backgrounds are joining — they want adventure. This is what ISIS promises.”Bangura continued, closing the loop to the West’s response: “ISIS has a policy to bring brilliant women from around the world. They will spend six hours a day online to recruit a woman. They understand how critical it is to have women. They have deployed smart women, and we are still talking.”
<Reference>

http://www.usip.org/publications/2015/08/03/women-and-violent-extremism-growing-threat-demands-concerted-action

http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/files/Women-Preventing-Violent-Extremism-Charting-New-Course.pdf

http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/wps/

photo : https://intouchwithja.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/vlcsnap-2014-12-09-08h58m43s189.png

 

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