Women and Extremism: the Association of Women and Girls with Jihadi Groups and Implications for Programming

Abstract

Women are typically portrayed as either the victims of ideologically based violence or as positive agents of moderation. The purpose of this study is to review the evidence on the role of women in violence and particularly in acts of terrorism. The report reviews evidence from selected jihadi groups that use violence in Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

Understanding women’s and girls’ perspectives and motivations is critical in order to explain why some women support organisations that use extreme violence and which do not treat women as equals. More pragmatically we need to increase our understanding of the different types of relationships that women and girls have with jihadi groups in order to inform policy and make effective interventions. To date interventions aimed at preventing radicalisation have been targeted almost exclusively at men and boys; however, the growing significance of women and girls’ involvement means they can no longer be ignored.

In this study we seek to acknowledge the agency of women and adopt a perspective that encompasses the range of social, political, economic, ideological and religious dimensions that, outside the feminist literature, have previously been applied only to their male counterparts.

The report draws on four main sources of data: published and UK Government literature, interviews with researchers on radicalisation, interviews with women activists and organisations, and the author’s own interviews with male jihadi group members and female supporters in previous UK Government work. The report is structured around nine hypotheses under three headings: Drivers and Entry Points; Women’s Role and Impact; and Lessons about What Works. It sets out its main findings in each case as well as making recommendations for the Government to follow.

Citation

Ladbury, S. Women and Extremism: the Association of Women and Girls with Jihadi Groups and Implications for Programming. (2015) 69 pp.

Women and Extremism: the Association of Women and Girls with Jihadi Groups and Implications for Programming

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