Role of women in countering terrorism and violent extremism

Issues relating to women, peace, and security have increasingly been brought to the attention of the Security Council, the Counter-Terrorism Committee, and the Committee’s Executive Directorate (CTED). There is a growing awareness of the significant role played by women in countering and assisting in terrorism and violent extremism. Because women are often highly influential in families, communities, and Governments, their proactive participation in counter-terrorism efforts can effect positive change. However, there has also been a steady increase in the radicalization and recruitment of young girls and women by female terrorists.

In accordance with the relevant Council resolutions, the focus of the efforts of the Committee and CTED is to ensure effective implementation of comprehensive, integrated legislation and counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism (CVE) strategies. Addressing the role of women and girls is an essential part of those efforts.

Security Council resolution 2129 (2013) reaffirms the Council’s objective to “increase its attention to women, peace and security issues in all relevant thematic areas of work on its agenda, including in threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts”.

In its resolution 2178 (2014), the Council encourages Member States to develop strategies to counter the violent extremist narrative that can incite terrorist acts, address the conditions conducive to the spread of violent extremism, which can be conducive to terrorism, including by empowering women.

In its resolution 2242 (2015), the Council requests the Committee and CTED to integrate gender as a cross-cutting issue throughout their activities, including in country-specific assessments and reports, recommendations made to Member States, the facilitation of technical assistance, and briefings to the Council. In the same resolution, the Council urges Member States and the United Nations — including CTED, in collaboration with UN Women — to conduct gender-sensitive research and collect data on the drivers of radicalization for women and the impacts of counter-terrorism strategies on women’s human rights and women’s organizations in order to develop targeted and evidence-based policy and programming responses.

On 9 September 2015, the Committee held its first open briefing on the role of women in countering terrorism and violent extremism.

In facilitating delivery of technical assistance to Member States on behalf of the Committee, CTED consistently mainstreams the issue of the role of women, with respect in particular to States’ development of inclusive and integrated national counter-terrorism and CVE strategies. UN Women is an important partner in those efforts.

In its interaction with Governments and civil society, CTED continues to fully integrate the gender perspective into its activities and to examine the role of women as targets, as perpetrators, and as potential partners.

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