Defending Women Against Radicalisation
The general assumption that women are nurturing, forgiving, and patient beings best suited to ensure the well-being of families and society is misleading, as demonstrated by the increased security threats posed by radicalised females in this region and elsewhere.
While waiting for society at large to take a more enlightened approach, existing practices and policies need adaptation and modification. At the broader level, more attention must be applied to the realities of the lived experiences of women.
The UN Security Council (UNSC) explicitly recognises “that development, security, and human rights are mutually reinforcing and are vital to an effective and comprehensive approach to countering terrorism”. UNSC Resolution 2178 (2014), which focuses on foreign terrorist fighters, encourages Member States to engage relevant local communities and non-governmental actors in developing strategies to counter the violent extremist narrative. This includes empowering women by fostering social cohesion and inclusiveness.
For the longer term, the imperative is to examine gender issues away from the traditional paradigm. To curb female radicalisation in the workforce, addressing gender-specific socio-economic plight will be an important step. For starters, understand that women in the workforce have unique and different ways of viewing the world and interpreting what is needed to make their lives and the lives of their families better.
Existing knowledge on radicalisation may find the link between extremist behaviour and inequalities rather tenuous. We agree, as long as those linkages are viewed through a particular lens. But once the blinkers are removed, links become apparent. This allows us a wider field of vision. Radicalisation through religion need not be the more attractive path out of socio-economic disenchantment.
*Tamara Nair is Research Fellow at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies and Alan Chong is Associate Professor at the Centre for Multilateralism Studies, both in the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.