Women Preventing Violent Extremism: Charting a New Course


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United States Institute of Peace

United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 (2000) was groundbreaking in that it provided strong support for greater attention to the role of women in international peace and security. It acknowledged the inordinate impact of violent conflict on women and recognized that women’s empowerment and gender equality are critical to international peace and security. The UN Security Council explicitly recognized the link between the Women, Peace and Security agenda as laid out in UNSCR 1325 and the role women could and should play in preventing violent extremism.

The increased political attention to the role of women in countering and preventing violent extremism and terrorism is encouraging. Nevertheless, a coherent international framework is still needed. Indeed, women are not one cohesive group, and as men, they play multiple roles in societies. They can be victims, enablers, and actors for positive change—each requires a different response and approach. Moreover, there is little research and data with respect to these various roles that women occupy.

Our efforts here are intended to engage a discussion on key issues related to the role of women and preventing violent extremism (PVE). This document is not for an academic audience. Nor is it a tool kit. We think of it as a thought kit— a collection of experts’ essays and exercises, designed to help guide activists and practitioners to engage in reflection and dialogue on violent extremism. In addition, we hope to bring greater awareness to the particular roles of women and women’s organizations in dealing with violent extremist ideologies.

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