Naureen Chowdhury Fink, Head of Research and Analysis at the Global Center, participated in a panel discussion on the role of women in countering violent extremism (CVE) hosted by the Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the UN, in partnership with UN Women and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. The event at the United Nations, held on the margins of the 14th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325, was the first in a series of six panels intended to explore a range of aspects related to women, peace, and security. Introductory remarks were made by H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the UAE Mission, Ambassador Malanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, and Radhika Coomaraswamy, Lead Author of the Global Study on the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and former UN Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict (2006-2012). Expert panelists also included Suaad Allami, Founder and Director, Sadr Women’s Center and Legal Clinic, Muhammed Rafiuddin Shah, Political Affairs Officer, UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, Joy Onyesoh, President, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and Carolin Schleker, Human Rights Officer, New York Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Panelists reflected on the important roles women can play in advocating for peace and preventing violent extremism, and the impact they can have in their communities—according to Ambassador Nusseibeh, “when you train a woman, you train an entire community.” However, it was also recognized that for different reasons, women play a range of roles, including those of perpetrators, supporters, and sympathizers of violent extremist groups. While recognizing the important roles women can play in the family, speakers underscored the importance of engaging women beyond traditional roles and providing leadership opportunities in decision-making capacities, whether in communities, the private sector, or government. The recent inclusion of UN Women in the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force was also noted and progress in efforts to include a gender dimension in multilateral CVE efforts was highlighted.
Reflecting on the application of a gendered approach to CVE, Ms. Fink called for a parallel approach, one that involves building capacities to address the enabling environment for extremist groups, and one that is more nuanced and targeted in view of the range of women’s roles relating to extremism. Furthermore, she called on member states, donors, and civil society partners to integrate a gender dimension into the funding and implementation mechanisms for CVE initiatives. Panelists broadly agreed on the need for a more integrated approach in governments and international organizations to link work on WPS and CVE, and reiterated the need to protect the security and integrity of civil society partners working on women’s issues in a CVE context.