A man’s world? Exploring the roles of women in countering terrorism and violent extremism

Naureen Chowdhury Fink, Sara Zeiger and Rafia Bhulai (Eds.)


This edited volume provides an innovative set of national, regional, and international perspectives reflecting on the roles of women in terrorism and countering violent extremism (CVE). Contributors reflect on the lessons learned from diverse fields of practice, including development, human rights, media and advocacy, academia, and conflict prevention and mitigation, and consider their application to CVE efforts. The analysis also draws on a series of workshops and discussions convened by the Global Center on Cooperative Security and Hedayah, relevant UN resolutions, and framework documents of the GCTF, as well as in-depth interviews by the editors with policymakers, practitioners, and experts in the field of CVE and related areas of work.

The collection of essays contained in this edited volume seek to build the body of literature on women and CVE by drawing on examples from a number of countries and regions. The essays contain both policy-level recommendations as well as program-level recommendations and seek to answer some of the out- standing questions regarding the types of roles women might play in CVE efforts.

A number of essays highlight the powerful role of women as preventers. Focusing on the recent adoption of UNSCR 2242 and the high-level attention on CVE, Chantal de Jonge Oudraat raises a number of overall concerns regarding the conflation of the women, peace and security and CVE agendas. Sahana Dharmapuri goes further in arguing that that utilizing the framework of UNSCR 1325 can be an effective tool for CVE efforts. Edit Schlaffer and Ulrich Kropiunigg present an innovative study examining the critical roles mothers can play in CVE efforts, informed by a unique field study and data-set.

A number of national experiences are also highlighted in this volume. Jayne Huckerby reviews the U.K.’s Prevent strategy with a focus on three key components: gender dynamics within the strategy itself, the main issues at stake in women’s roles in CVE programs, and the ways in which violent extremism and CVE impact women and girls differently than men and boys. ‘Kemi Okenyodo analyzes the Nigerian context, reflecting on the wider gender roles in Nigeria and how these roles might translate to better gendered approaches to violent extremism. Mariam Safi’s chapter underscores the critical important of women’s inclusion in efforts to build peace and resilient communities, and as part of that, to prevent and counter violent extremism.

The roles of women as perpetrators and supporters of violent extremism are also examined in this volume. Erin Saltman and Ross Frenett explore the roles women play as being radicalized to join ISIS, as well as implications of these roles in CVE. Guillaume Denoix de Saint Marc and Stephane Lacombe investigate the varied roles women play in both participating in and countering violent extremism.

The essays are analyzed in the conclusion, which also includes a set of recommendations for national, regional, and international actors to integrate a gender perspective into CVE policy and programming.


Chowdhury Fink, N., Zeiger, S., & Bhulai, R. (Eds.). (2016). A man’s world? Exploring the roles of women in counter terrorism and violent extremism. Abu Dhabi: Hedayah and The Global Center on Cooperative Security.