Empower women to counter violent extremism


A major new study released on International Women’s Day offers insight into how non-violent Islamist ideology overlaps with the violent Islamism of groups including Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda (AQ).

The paper Women and the Caliphate: Women’s Rights and Restrictions in Islamist Ideology and Practice from the  Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism (CRT) explores whether Islamic State’s ideology regarding women’s roles in society can be found closer to home, among those living in western societies:

It does so by studying the phenomenon of British women travelling to Iraq and Syria to join the Caliphate, and highlighting the common aims of both non-violent and violent Islamist groups regarding women’s roles and obligations in society in the first in-depth comparative study of its kind. This paper examines as its primary case study the prominent Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), with a focus on the messaging and activities of its British branch, Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain (HTB). 

“For too long, the ideology shared between nonviolent and violent Islamists has gone unchallenged,” report author Emily Dyer says. “While Islamist groups differ greatly in methodology, their fundamental aim of living in an Islamic Caliphate governed by sharia law, where women are largely confined to their homes, remains the same. It is time we recognise the fundamental importance of taking ideology seriously.”

The findings reinforce one of the most fundamental and crucial changes in Britain’s approach to counter-terrorism policy in recent years – in acknowledging the important role ideology plays in both non-violent and violent extremism, using the role of women in society and women’s rights as a measure of attitudes, HJS adds:

The research shows how the powerful ideology of Islamism teaches women living in Great Britain that their freedoms are shackles, liberation from which can only come by living under Caliphate rule. It is likely that this narrative helps build the ideological foundations upon which moving to live in a so-called Caliphate is not only an attractive option, but a duty. As such, it is crucial Western governments do not fall into the trap of assuming that only violent extremists need challenging.


On March 9 to celebrate International Women’s Day, the National Endowment for Democracy will host a panel on the challenges women face in overcoming religious, political, and ethnic extremism.

The event will highlight the work of brave women activists who have stood up for human rights in the face of growing violence in their regions, and will feature a discussion on how their efforts can be strengthened.

The National Endowment for Democracy and the
Darfur Women Action Group invite you to

Empowering Women to Counter Violent Extremism


Saba Ismail (Pakistan)
Director of Aware Girls

Myra Dahgaypaw (Burma)

Policy Advisor for the U.S. Campaign for Burma

Niemat Ahmadi (Sudan)

Founder of Darfur Women Action Group

Najla Mangoush (Libya)

Peacebuilding Consultant


Moderator: Mahnaz Afkhami

Founder of Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


National Endowment for Democracy

1025 F St NW, 8th Floor, Washington, DC


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