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Bianca Handyside

Year of Award: 2017 Award State: Victoria
To investigate the role of women in violent Islamist extremism - USA, Canada, Netherlands, France, UK
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Major Lessons Learnt

  • Women have undeniably become more active within violent Islamism, a situation likely to become more serious as the threat environment continues to evolve. Almost every country visited during this Fellowship had experienced examples of women either involved in attack planning or who had participated in actual violence;
  • There is still a prominent bias that exists in relation to women, including perceptions around their ability to engage in violent activity and act independently of men. An awareness of this cognitive bias will enhance our ability to proactively address the threat of domestic terrorism;
  • The development and implementation of Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) efforts that consider gender equally, particularly those which are driven from within Muslim communities, need to be encouraged and supported. Furthermore, initiatives that focus on building resilience will assist in tackling the issue of radicalisation at its root;
  • Much of the research undertaken into terrorism until recently has been “gender blind”. By engaging in studies that are more sensitive to the complexities of gender, we can create a basis upon which future projects can be developed. Moreover, it will assist in raising the profile of the role of women in violent Islamism, thereby helping to focus attention on this evolving and increasingly important area.

Keywords: Female, women, gender, violent, Islamist, Islamism, extremism, terrorism