RUSI JournalVolume 161Issue 5

Different Cities, Shared Stories: A Five-Country Study Challenging Assumptions Around Muslim Women and CVE Interventions


An in-depth analysis questions conventional thinking on the role women can play in efforts to counter violent extremism.

In 2015, UN Security Council Resolution 2242 advocated deliberate outreach to women when devising counterterrorism projects. This is based on assumptions of the need to empower women, as well as their particular ability to exert benign influence over young people and stop radicalisation to violence. The approach has been particularly prevalent in Western Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) projects aimed at preventing homegrown Islamist radicalisation.

On the basis of field work with Muslim communities in five countries – Canada, the UK, Germany, France and The Netherlands – Emily Winterbotham and Elizabeth Pearson challenge the underlying assumptions of such an approach, and suggest aspects of women’s CVE projects may exacerbate existing community tensions, and do not reflect the changing norms of Muslim communities in the West. Alternative modes of engagement could improve the efficacy of CVE and enable it to better appeal to those it is intended to help.

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WRITTEN BY

Emily Winterbotham

Director, Terrorism and Conflict

Terrorism and Conflict

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Elizabeth Pearson

Associate Fellow

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