Counter-Terrorism, Prevention of Violent Extremism and Women

“Terrorists and violent extremists have increasingly targeted women and women’s rights as a tactic of terrorism. We also know at the same time how violence against women, and rape in particular as a weapon of war, are very much associated with terrorism.”

-- Speech by Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

UN Women has highlighted the important role of women in preventing violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism. UN Women also supports women’s organizations and civil society actors to strengthen partnerships with government to enhance women’s economic empowerment and promote women’s participation in the development and implementation of strategies and measures to prevent violent extremism conducive to terrorism.

UN Women’s programme Empowered Women, Peaceful Communities Program in Asia and the Pacific seeks to combat extremism in South East Asia and South Asia, including through a video sensitizing about the recruitment of women to terrorist groups. UN Women is also implementing research projects to explore the factors behind women’s radicalization and mobilization in East Africa, the Sahel, Central Asia, the Balkans and South and Southeast Asia including a “Study on the Gendered Analysis of ISIL Messaging”, a Policy Paper on Gender and Violent Extremism in Central and West Africa, a “Study and Resulting Program Addressing Women and Violent Extremism” and “Women and Violent Extremism in Europe and Central Asia”.

United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT/UNCCT) in collaboration with UN Women is seeking to build the capacity for security sectors on human rights and gender equality principles, including how their actions can contribution to radicalization processes. UNOCT also has a gender mainstreaming staff toolkit and has adopted a gender marker system – a methodology used by many UN entities to assess the gender-responsiveness of each project.

In December 2016, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict produced a report highlighting the systematic and widespread use of sexual violence as a tactic of terrorism by ISIL. This report presented preliminary information that can serve as a basis for the consideration of listing of individuals, and deepening knowledge and understanding of the systematic use of sexual violence as a tactic of terrorism and its links with trafficking in persons.