VIENNA, 12 MARCH 2012 – Ways of empowering women in countering violent extremism and radicalization that leads to terrorism is the focus of a two-day expert meeting organized by the OSCE today in Vienna.
More than 100 experts in the fields of security, gender and human rights, from government, academia, and civil society, will discuss good practices and lessons learnt from women’s initiatives in tackling the issue.
“For too long, terrorism has been viewed exclusively as a male problem,” said keynote speaker Detective Inspector Khizra Dhindsa, the national lead officer for Project Shanaz, an initiative by the Association of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales to engage women against violent extremism and terrorism.
“Structures, advisory bodies and methods were never intended to cater for women’s inclusion in counter-terrorism - therefore they are not effective. It is as if we have been trying to fly on one wing,” she said.
Assia Ivantcheva, the Acting Head of the Human Rights Department of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said governments and civil society have an important responsibility to empower women and to factor in their experiences into counter-terrorism efforts.
“It is only through a gender-sensitive and human rights compliant approach that counter-terrorism measures can be sustainable and effective,” said Ivantcheva.
Elaine Hargrove, Programme Director for the Sisters against Violent Extremism (SAVE) initiative, stressed that women are eager to develop the knowledge and tools to help protect their families, neighbourhoods and societies against the threat of violent extremism and terrorism.
“Women are strategically positioned to help raise awareness about the threat of violent extremism and to empower their communities to reduce the appeal of extremist ideologies,” she said.
The meeting was organized by ODIHR jointly with the Gender Section and the Transnational Threats Department of the OSCE Secretariat. It follows an expert meeting held in December 2011 on the dynamics behind the terrorist radicalization of women and ways to prevent it.