Preventing violent extremism and countering terrorism

In recent years, threats from violent extremism and terrorism have increased, with violent extremism groups exploiting grievances, inequalities, and governance deficits to recruit followers. Crimes committed by terrorist groups sanctioned by the UN have exacerbated existing challenges and eroded progress toward gender equality.

Securitized and militarized responses to violent extremism often take priority over conflict prevention and peacebuilding approaches. Initiatives to promote the rights of women to participate in security sector decision-making platforms remain underfunded and often tokenistic. In addition, human rights’ violations committed under the pretext of counterterrorism, especially gender/sexual-based violence, are largely underreported and perpetrators are rarely held to account. Sometimes, the lack of gender-sensitive approaches leads to harmful practices and/or reinforce gender-based discrimination.

Our solutions

UN Women works with national and international partners to promote women’s rights and gender equality through supporting the implementation of commitments outlined in the women, peace, and security agenda and in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in contexts impacted by terrorism, violent extremism and counter-terrorism. UN Women contributes to the UN Counterterrorism agenda by leveraging its normative, coordination, and operational mandates in support of women’s participation in global, regional, and national dialogues. It also works to expand knowledge on the gendered aspects of violent extremism and terrorism through providing advisory services and localized research and through strengthening gender-responsive capacities.

UN Women adopts a people-centred approach to ensure no one is left behind. To do this, UN Women capitalizes on its partnership with independent and women-led civil society organizations to increase the inclusion and representation of girls and women impacted by terrorism and violent extremism. Find out more here.

UN Women also supports national partners to prioritize gender equality and women’s empowerment in their efforts to prevent violent extremism through policy and programmatic support to strengthen social cohesion, peaceful coexistence and community security—ensuring that efforts are human rights-oriented and conflict-sensitive, in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, SDG 10, and SDG 16.

UN Women’s approach to countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism is conceived within the framework of the women, peace and security agenda (UNSCR 1325 and UNSCR 2242), Agenda 2030, and the UN Priority Agenda on Preventing and Sustaining Peace. UN Women’s Strategic Plan 2022–2025 outlines its contribution to the prevention of violent extremism. UN Women is also an integral part of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Compact led by the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, where it chairs the working group on gender-sensitive approaches.