Ebook: Enhancing Women's Roles in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE)
Women can make a unique and valuable contribution to countering terrorism and violent extremism. Their participation in the wider fight against terrorism and violent extremism is essential. This is why NATO continues to encourage its allies and partners to engage more systematically on the nexus between gender and counter terrorism.
This book presents edited contributions presented at the NATO Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) Enhancing Women’s Roles in International Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Efforts, held in Madrid, Spain, from 19 – 21 March 2018, organized by Hedayah and the Fundación para el Análisis y los Estudios Sociales (FAES).
The workshop was aimed at building on existing good practice and recommendations from the fields of countering violent extremism (CVE) and women, peace and security (WPS), recognizing that while many women facilitate acts of terrorism, willingly support terrorist groups and perform terrorist acts, they can also play a key role in preventing the violent extremism. The fight against terrorism requires a whole-society approach in which women’s participation is essential. Contributors to this volume explore the extent to which terrorism and violent extremism are gendered activities. They also discuss the importance of women’s social and political participation in helping to counter acts of terror and violence. Evidence-based research is used to identify how women can be empowered to enhance the fight against terrorism, and to identify opportunities for substantive, meaningful roles across a wide spectrum of counter terrorism activities
Given current and emerging threats, the book focuses in particular on NATO countries & partners in the Middle East and North Africa, and will be of particular interest to all those involved with security and gender issues.
Counter Terrorism Officer, NATO
Senior Advisor to Secretary General Special Representative (SGSR for WPS), NATO
Abstract. The Alliance's contribution to the global approach to Counter Terrorism was set out at the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago. This article describes its subsequent evolution and makes reference to NATO's current role in the international community's fight against terrorism. Particular attention is given to the intimately related field of Women, Peace and Security and the way that gender considerations have now been mainstreamed throughout NATO's counter terrorism approach and beyond. Some practical examples of relevant NATO activities are given.
Keywords. NATO, counter terrorism, women, peace and security
This edited volume and the Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) hosted by Hedayah and the Fundación para el Análisis y los Estudios Sociales (the Foundation for the Analysis and Social Studies, FAES) on “Enhancing Women's Roles in International Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Efforts” contribute to two of NATO's strategic objectives. First, they support co-operation as part of international efforts to meet the security challenges of counter-terrorism through the investigation of human factors and best practices. Second, they contribute to enhancing awareness of security developments in human and social aspects of security. Therefore, both enhance NATO's efforts, in the sphere of counter-terrorism, and in relation to the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. To put the contribution in context, it is important to outline NATO's key efforts to counter terrorism and to support the WPS agenda internationally.
As NATO Allies stated in 2014, “Terrorism poses a direct threat to the security of the citizens of NATO countries, and to international stability and prosperity as a persistent global threat that knows no border, nationality or religion and is a challenge that the international community must tackle together” . Allies recognize that the primary responsibility to defend citizens and territory against terrorist attacks lies with individual states but that International Organizations have a complementary and non-duplicative role to play. The United Nations Global Counter Terrorism Strategy (General Assembly A/RES/60/288), a unique global approach to enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism, has underpinned the international counter terrorism effort since 2006 . NATO, as a political-military Alliance, contributes its unique strengths primarily under the second and third pillars of the strategy, namely preventing and combating terrorism and building states' capacity. Also, while not directly part of its mandate, NATO acknowledges the importance of work related to foreign terrorist fighters and to preventing terrorism through countering violent extremism (CVE) and considers it relevant to its own contribution to the international community's fight against terrorism. NATO Allies' and Partners' promote the role of WPS within the framework of United Nations Security Council Resolutions as an integral part of NATO's wider policy objective of enhancing security and stability. It is also key to international efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism.
2. NATO's Evolving Contribution to the Fight against Terrorism
Although terrorism was recognized as a relevant threat in NATO's Strategic Concept in 1991, it was only after the attacks against the United States in September 2001, that NATO addressed it through a more structured and focused approach. As an external attack on an Ally, 9/11 gave rise to NATO's first, and to date only, invocation of its collective defense mechanism – Article 5 of the founding Washington Treaty. In 2011, the global threat environment demanded that NATO reconsider its contribution and employ a more comprehensive approach. Building on the institutional transformation within NATO in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a review of NATO's approach to Counter Terrorism conducted in 2012 identified NATO's added value and specific roles in the global counter terrorism approach.
The 2012 Counter Terrorism Policy Guidelines recognized Counter Terrorism as an integral part of NATO's three core tasks . The Alliance was directed to address three pillars: Awareness of the threat (through intelligence exchange, political consultations etc.); Capabilities (to ensure NATO action remains possible despite the terrorist threat); and Engagement with partner nations and other international organizations (to ensure a cohesive international approach).
This 2012 CT political guidance was translated into military implications for the fight against terrorism. The Military Concept for Counter-Terrorism (MC0472/1) recognized that “terrorism poses one of the most immediate threats to the Alliance and its Members…” . The Military Concept defines counter-terrorism as “all preventive, defensive and offensive measures taken to reduce the vulnerability of forces, individuals and property against terrorist threats and/or acts, to respond to terrorist acts” . It builds extensively on the three key principles outlined in NATO's Counter-Terrorism Policy Guidelines and reaffirms NATO's commitment, with a specific focus on the military Counter Terrorism contribution.
Given the evolution of the threat and the changed security environment, in May 2017 Heads of State and Government endorsed an ambitious and detailed Action Plan to enhance NATO's role in the international community's fight against terrorism. This Action Plan was intended to strengthen and expand NATO's contribution to the broader international fight against terrorism. It covers the areas of awareness and assessment, preparedness and responsiveness, capability development, cooperation and capacity building for partners, and support to operations. It serves as an important aspect of efforts to project stability and contributes to the Alliance's approach to deterrence and defense.
Within this Action Plan, NATO recognized the need to better understand the impact of gender in order to be able to prevent and respond more efficiently to violent extremism and terrorism. The Alliance has therefore committed to study the impact of gender in the context of security and counter-terrorism as well as to mainstream gender issues more widely. Adequate support for the Alliance's WPS agenda is essential, as is its inclusion in existing NATO strategies, over and above those related to counter terrorism.
Recent years have seen an unexpected rise in women's involvement in terrorism, an activity which traditionally, had been considered as male-dominated. Daesh and other terrorist groups integrate gender into their messaging and social governance system and use the gender perspective as a strategic and operational tool. To date, too little attention has been paid to the lack of female participation in the fight against terrorism, despite a recognized, urgent requirement for a way to dissuade or deter vulnerable women and girls from joining terrorist movements.
The WPS agenda recognizes the vital role women play in contemporary security challenges, and terrorism is no exception. The adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2242 at the 15th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, addressed women's role in countering violent extremism and terrorism. At that meeting, the (now former) NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow pledged to the UN Security Council that NATO would finance research on the role of gender in countering and preventing violent extremism:
The world is changing rapidly. We face a rising tide of violent extremism and terrorism. And it will be women, once again, who are most at risk. It is therefore essential that women be involved at every stage, and every level, of our operations and missions…NATO is doing a lot. But, we need to do more, especially when it comes to promoting equal participation within NATO itself. We need to increase active and meaningful participation of women. To this end, we pledge…to finance gender-sensitive research aimed at identifying drivers of radicalization and violent extremism, and to develop targeted and evidence-based responses, including the empowerment of women to safeguard communities .
Since then, NATO has made good this pledge by contributing to efforts to better understand the role of women in preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism and continuously underlining the importance of the gender perspective. The implementation of the WPS agenda represents an important policy priority for NATO Allies and Partners across all areas of work. Importantly, the three pillars of NATO's Counter Terrorism Policy Guidelines – Awareness, Capabilities and Engagement – are now reflected in the Women, Peace and Security agenda. This is illustrated:
Awareness of the terrorist threat today and tomorrow includes gender analysis and early warning indicators.
Capabilities to counter terrorism effectively include gender expertise and improved gender balance, as well as awareness of the threat that women can pose to security.
Engagement with partner countries and other International Organizations includes commitment and strengthened efforts to integrate WPS in their daily agenda.
NATO Allies and Partners are made aware of the differing impact of terrorism and violent extremism on women, men, girls and boys, including in the context of health, education and participation in public life. Women and girls are known to be directly targeted by extremist groups and there is deep concern that acts of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)  are a deliberate part of the ideology and strategic objectives of certain terrorist groups. SGBV is recognized as a method of terrorism/war, and is used as an operational tactic by terrorist groups. It can further contribute to the power of such groups through drawing in finances and recruits and through the destruction of communities. SGBV's link to human trafficking and violent extremism is recognized in Security Council Resolution 2331 .
Whilst women can play a key role in preventing violent extremism that leads to terrorism, many also facilitate acts of terrorism, willingly support terrorist groups and perform terrorist acts. NATO recognizes that terrorism and violent extremism are gendered activities that usually exploit rigid stereotypes about gender roles and that, importantly, women's political participation can help counter acts of terror and violence.
3. Examples of NATO's Practical Engagement
The NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme (SPS) has long supported the Women, Peace and Security agenda. As a response to female migration to Daesh, and in addition to the ARW mentioned in this volume, SPS funded an ARW led by experts from Morocco and the United States on the “Prevention of recruitment of women to Daesh and other terror groups.” The goals of the workshop were to raise awareness about the issue and develop practical, concrete measures to help prevent women and girls from travelling to join terrorist groups as well as to conduct an evidence based review of reasons for women joining Daesh. It also looked at how to respond to the tactics used by Daesh in the recruitment of women and how to neutralize and counteract its messages.
NATO has initiated gender-sensitive research aimed at identifying drivers of radicalization and violent extremism, and developing targeted and evidence-based responses. NATO offers a wide range of training and education opportunities specific to the field of counter terrorism, including training on “Gender in Terrorism Education” which is provided to both Allies and Partners. NATO can draw on a wide network of educational assets, including the NATO School in Oberammergau and more than 20 Centres of Excellence – one of which, in Ankara, Turkey, specifically addresses Allies' and Partners' Defence Against Terrorism.
The 2017 Action Plan on NATO's enhanced role in the international community's fight against terrorism specifies that ongoing and future efforts should seek to include a gender dimension to promote their long-term sustainability and ensure they do not have an adverse impact on women and girls.
NATO's approach to the fight against terrorism has evolved since it was first set out in 2012. It will continue to do so in order to adapt to changing aspects of terrorism and violent extremism which have a much wider impact. The role of women is one such aspect. NATO is committed to the WPS agenda, and makes a connected effort to mainstream the role of gender including into the NATO's Counter Terrorism approach. Recognizing that the WPS agenda is much more complex than just protecting women from armed conflict, NATO is determined to contribute to changing the discourse. The application of the “gender lens” has already made a difference in operational contexts.
Women make unique and valuable contributions to various aspects of countering terrorism, including through analysis, fieldwork and policy development. Their participation in the wider fight against terrorism and violent extremism is essential and NATO will continue to encourage Allies and Partners to engage more systematically on issues of gender and counter terrorism. Through NATO's SPS Programme, NATO can contribute to evidence-based research to identify how women can be empowered to enhance the fight against terrorism and to identify opportunities for substantive, meaningful female roles across a wide spectrum of counter terrorism activities. The fight against terrorism requires a whole of society approach in which women's participation is essential. Greater social and economic empowerment will fuel improved involvement.
References and Endnotes
 NATO, Wales Summit Declaration, September 2014, https://www.nato.int/cps/ic/natohq/official_texts_112964.htm.
 United Nations General Assembly, The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, 2006, http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/60/288.
 Cooperative security, collective defence, crisis management.
 North Atlantic Military Committee, Final Decision on Military Concept for Counter-Terrorism MC 0472/1, 2016, https://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/pdf_2016_01/20160817_160106-mc0472-1-final.pdf.
 United Nations Security Council Open Debate on the High-Level Review of UNSCR 1325 – Women, Peace and Security, Remarks by NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow, 2015, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_123768.htm.
 NATO defined SGBV in its Military guidelines on the prevention of, and response to, conflict related sexual and gender-based violence “Any sexual and/or gender-based violence against an individual or group of individuals, used or commissioned in relation to a crisis or an armed conflict.”
 United Nations, United Nations Security Council Resolution 2242, 2015, https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/wp-content/uploads/s_res_2242.pdf.
This chapter introduces the topic: the intersection between the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 regarding women, peace and security and countering violent extremism (CVE). The chapter also summarizes the contents of a workshop on “Enhancing Women's Roles in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism” that was hosted by Hedayah and Fundación para el Análisis y los Estudios Sociales (the Foundation for the Analysis and Social Studies, FAES) in March 2018 in Madrid, Spain. The workshop aimed to develop a further research base for incorporating a gender lens into peace and security efforts, with the perspective of looking across the full spectrum of counter-terrorism, to include prevention.
Since the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, there have been a number of frameworks, policies, initiatives and programs that have focused on addressing women, peace and security issues. This essay looks at the international context of WPS in the framework of how the implementation of 1325 relates to Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). In addition, this essay gives an overview of the National Action Plans of 29 countries and evaluates them in comparison with two key indicators: the Global Gender Gap Index and the Global Women, Peace & Security Index. Finally, this essay concludes with three case studies of the National Action Plans and indicates areas of overlap with relevant efforts for better inclusion of women in CVE.
This essay provides a case study for the roles that women play in preventing and countering violent extremism, drawing from the Tunisian context. It begins with a review of the legal and institutional frameworks related to women in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) in Tunisia. It also summarizes the role of women in the National Strategy to Counter Extremism and Terrorism as outlined through strategic objective 4. It concludes with some recommendations for the implementation of these legal, institutional and strategic objectives moving forward.
With reference to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security (WPS), this essay examines a Bilateral Spanish-Dutch Initiative for Gender Training in International Operations and Missions. The initiative intends to raise awareness of gendered approaches to security. The essay also reviews how this initiative fits within the framework of the Spanish National Action Plan (NAP) for WPS and explains how the implementation of the training program may contribute to better operational effectiveness.
The threats of terrorism and radicalization have become more complex and multifaceted, and it is necessary to focus on the elements that influence the radicalization process to prevent this phenomenon. Education, family and the increasing use of information and communication technologies play a key role. This essay summarizes the Spanish Government's policies on preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE).
This chapter poses the following research questions: a) what should exactly be prevented and countered when referring to the role of women in countering violent extremism? b) should preventing and countering extremism apply only to violent acts or should it address also what some authors have termed cognitive radicalization? Consequently, the article puts forward the following hypotheses: a) ideology plays a key role in the radicalization process of individuals who take their radical beliefs to the next level by embracing violence; b) enhancing women's role in countering violent extremism requires addressing and confronting the radical and non-democratic ideas present at the root of violent extremism
Women are playing an increasingly significant role in terrorism. As men are increasingly targeted by security personnel using female operatives provides terrorist organizations with a ‘win-win’ scenario; if security forces avoid invasively searching women for fear of outraging the local conservative population [based on social norms of women's modesty and the honor code], women are the ideal stealth weapon. If security personnel are too aggressive in searching women, they aid terrorist recruitment by outraging the men in that society and providing the terrorists with propaganda that ‘our women’ are being violated. In most conflicts, women remain an untapped resource. Recruiting women allows terrorist organizations to access an additional 50% of the population. Female attacks generate greater media attention than those conducted by men. This is especially relevant where media attention is one of the terrorists' main objectives. Although women's involvement in terrorist and extremist activities is not a recent development, their presence as front-line activists, propagandists, and recruiters is increasing around the globe. .
The so-called “armed jihad” has been traditionally understood as an activity reserved for men, who were the ones sacrificing their lives, if needed, as martyrs for the cause of Allah. However, contemporary Islamist terrorism has been introducing constant updates depending on the circumstances and the operational needs, showing a greater increase in the involvement of women in the “armed jihad.” In this regard, over the last 15 years, women have even been used in suicide operations, especially in Russia and Iraq, where terrorists exploited the role of women precisely because they were a rare and surprising element when perpetrating an attack. This essay investigates the role of women in terrorist activity, specifically those involved in Daesh from the context of Spain in relation to the foreign terrorist fighter (FTF) phenomenon.
The paper first provides an overview of the role women play in three Salafi organizations in South Asia. It identifies two main typologies in their activism, labeled as “subsidiary leadership” and “deferential activism.” It then proceeds to describe how women join Salafi organizations, how some of them engage in a process of radicalization and what are the differences with similar processes in males.
This essay explores how women's organisations contribute to countering and preventing violent extremism (CVE/PVE) and what concerns exist when linking women's initiatives to the security agenda. It explores the different ways in which women and women's organisations have contributed to CVE/PVE efforts and discusses the nexus between improving women's rights and countering and preventing violent extremism. This essay draws on academic literature, reports on the issue and interviews with practitioners working in the field.
Since the UN Secretary-General presented the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism  to the UN General Assembly on its seventieth session, 15 January 2016, all member states were urged to include efforts on strategic communications, the Internet and social media in their Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) strategies. This essay gives a preliminary overview of the gender perspective integrated in the international organizations (Middle East and North Africa (MENA)-based), national and government-led efforts in alternative and counter-messaging for preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE). In addition, this essay will discuss case studies of counter-narrative initiatives from five countries: Egypt, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in detail. Finally, this essay concludes with a list of recommendations on better inclusion of the role of women in alternative and counter-narrative efforts in MENA region.
Mothers present a missing link in preventing the spread of violent extremism. Their unparalleled physical and emotional proximity make them witnesses of every stage in their child's development. While mothers thus have the potential to intervene if necessary, they often lack the essential knowledge and self-confidence to recognize and address the early warning signs of radicalization in their sons and daughters. In response, Women without Borders (WwB) developed and designed the pioneering “MotherSchools: Parenting for Peace” Model. When put into practice, this proven approach positions concerned and affected mothers as the first line of defense against extremism in at-risk communities around the globe. MotherSchools programs have equipped mothers with the necessary competence and confidence to translate their unique potential into action across twelve countries to date. Using their agency as a unifying feature and employing the MotherSchools in Macedonia as a good practice case study, this paper advocates the wider inclusion of mothers in community-based counter-extremism strategies. In an effort to normalize the notion of mothers as indispensable security allies, we propose the adoption of a new term: Mothers Preventing Violent Extremism (MPVE).