Preventing violent extremism and countering terrorism

Threats from violent extremism and terrorism have increased in recent years. Women of all ages are targets of extremist violence and terrorist acts, including the use of sexual violence and sexual slavery to terrorize, suppress, and demoralize entire communities and generate revenue.

Women are not just victims; they play diverse roles related to violent extremism and terrorism. Some women actively support terrorist and violent extremist groups by recruiting others, raising funds and spreading violent extremist ideologies, and even participating in violent acts. But women and women-led civil society organizations are also actively combating violent extremism and terrorism by building social cohesion, tolerance, and community resilience, and leading efforts to deradicalize and reintegrate returnees and former violent extremists.

Women and women’s organizations are also differentially impacted by responses to terrorism and violent extremism and must navigate threats both from terrorists and from counter-terrorism efforts.

Understanding the complex relationships between women, gender, and violent extremism is critical to prevention efforts.

Our solutions

UN Women is working to ensure that efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism and terrorism are gender-responsive and reflect women’s needs, agency, and leadership. We support research on gendered drivers of extremist violence and the impacts of counter-terrorism strategies on women and civil society; promote gender and women’s rights in counter-terrorism frameworks and the bodies that implement them; and support services for survivors of extremist violence.

UN Women promotes conflict-resilient and tolerant societies that are able to address the root causes of extremist violence through focusing on prevention efforts that facilitate women’s participation, leadership, and the protection of their rights.

Read more about our work supporting women’s efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism in Cameroon and the Asia Pacific Region, including an innovative take on the role of comedy to counter violent extremism. Learn how empowering women is helping prevent violent extremism in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines, and helping survivors of violent extremism in Cameroon and Niger rebuild their lives.

Read UN Women’s cutting-edge research on gendered messaging used by ISIL, women and violent radicalization in Jordan, and women and violent extremism in Europe and Central Asia. See also three reports looking at women and violent extremism in Kenya: