On the margins of the summit on countering violent extremism (CVE) at the White House, the Global Center hosted an event to explore the roles of women and youth in preventing and countering violent extremism. Two panels brought together a rich diversity of perspectives on CVE policies and programming, drawing on experiences in different regions and fields of practice.
The side event was commenced by Global Center Executive Director Alistair Millar, followed by an opening address from Ambassador Melanne Verveer, executive director of Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, who underscored the symmetry between efforts to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and CVE practice, noting that extremists everywhere have sought to marginalize women and roll back their rights. Ambassador Verveer noted the critical need to protect access to education for girls and to ensure that CVE efforts reflect the multiplicity of roles women play, including those of supporters of violent extremist groups.
Panelists focusing on the roles of women included Kathleen Kuehnast, director of the Center for Gender and Peacebuilding at the United States Institute of Peace; Bridget Osakwe, program manager of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding; Ross Frenett, director of the Against Violent Extremism Network at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue; Edit Schlaffer, executive director and founder of Women Without Borders/Sisters Against Violent Extremism. The panel was moderated by Naureen Chowdhury Fink, Global Center head of research and analysis. Speakers highlighted important lessons learned from working with women in conflict prevention and peace-building in West Africa, for example, and reflected on how these might inform CVE efforts on the policy level or on the ground. The unprecedented outflow of women to territory controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant also highlighted the need for prevention strategies that consider women’s choices to support extremist groups.
The second panel highlighted engaging youth in CVE strategies. Panelists included Mallika Joseph, director of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies; Shahed Amanullah, principal of Affinis Global; and Rebecca Cataldi, program manager of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy. Panelists highlighted critical lessons on engaging youth from different perspectives, for example, through entertaining and educational cartoons, market-based services and incentives to empower Muslim youth, inclusive political frameworks, and education, including involvement of faith-based educational leaders.