Chantal de Jonge Oudraat and Michael E. Brown
Political leaders regularly make grand, public statements about the importance of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda for promoting national and international security, but their policy actions have fallen far short of their rhetorical declarations.
There are two main reasons for this. First, political leaders are the point persons for their male-dominated security establishments. These establishments do not prioritize women and gender issues in national and international security affairs. Second, the WPS agenda has been framed as a “women’s” issue, which makes it easier for the establishment to marginalize the WPS cause. Fixing the second problem will help us make more progress with the first—advancing women, gender perspectives, and gender equality in national and international security.
Hamoon Khelgat Doost
Many scholarly works on women in jihadi organizations emphasize women’s lack of agency. Authors of these works argue women have fallen victim to these male-dominated organizations and thus have lost control over their actions. However, certain groups of women in some jihadi organizations—for example, Islamic State (or IS), Jaish al-Fatah, and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham—enjoy a degree of agency within the scope of their duties.
This policy brief examines the extent to which women in jihadi organizations have agency—that is, to which extent they are able to make independent decisions. Understanding the conditions under which women have agency, allows policy makers to recognize the diversity of roles and contributions of women within jihadi organizations and design appropriate policy responses.
Jeannette Gaudry Haynie and Chantal de Jonge Oudraat
As the idea that women can and should play pivotal roles in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) gains greater traction, decision makers and scholars must keep striving toward a more nuanced understanding of the historical, cultural, and gendered contexts that enable extremist movements and organizations to grow.
Fauziya Abdi Ali
Violent extremist narratives and actions threaten to roll back the hard-won gains women have made in the struggle for equality. With so much at stake, women must be engaged in efforts to counter violent extremism. However, women’s engagement in the fight against violent extremism also threatens these gains if engagement remains binary, failing to take into account the diverse roles of women.
In July 2016 at Fort Benning, Georgia, US women for the first time began training to become Army infantry and armor officers. This first cohort of women has neither been issued a women-specific equipment to accommodate smaller physical frames. In addition, while some equipment challenges can be addressed through modifications in training, others require equipment modifications and new procurement. To optimize women's performance in this uncharted terrain, the Army must ensure they receive appropriate training and equipment also collect, monitor, and evaluate data on the performance of all its soldiers.
Jeannette Gaudry Haynie and Dr. Chantal de Jonge Oudraat
In recent years, policymakers and international actors have begun to recognize the important role of women and women’s organizations in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE). In October 2015, the UNSecurity Council adopted Resolution 2242, which linked the women, peace and security (WPS) and the P/CVE agendas and called for synergies between efforts aimed at countering violent extremism and those furthering the WPS agenda. In 2016, the US government incorporated P/CVE in its National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
The idea that women can be powerful allies in the fight against violent extremism is based primarily on two interrelated observations. First, women often function at the heart of their communities and are thus best placed to recognize early warning signs of radicalization. Effective P/CVE programs will capitalize on this. Second, a community that hopes to address extremism effectively must include the broadest possible range of perspectives in its programming. Because society, economies, and war affect them in gender- specific ways, women bring different perspectives to discussions and plans affecting security.
That said, women-centric P/CVE programming is in its infancy. An initial review of these programs points to five main problems, which are explored in this policy brief.
Jeannette Gaudry Haynie
The rise of groups like ISIS has galvanized the expansion of the global terrorism problem. While ISIS is hardly the first extremist organization to attract women and to use gendered tactics for recruitment, its formation and growth has paralleled the explosion of social media, bringing unprecedented attention to the problem. As scholars and policymakers attempt to develop coherent responses to the threats that groups like ISIS pose, three critical issues need to be addressed.
(1) What drives individuals to join extremist groups, and are these drivers different for men or women?
(2) What are common methods of recruitment, and do they differ by gender?
(3) Have states and international institutions integrated gender perspectives in their responses to radicalization and extremist violence? Do these approaches empower women to resist recruitment?
Without an integrated dialogue between the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and counterterrorism communities, the answers to these questions will remain incomplete and policy responses may fall short.
Ellen Haring and Antonieta Rico
The Combat Integration Handbook is a reference guide for combat arms leaders at the battalion level and below. It was developed to help leaders successfully integrate their units. This guide comes at an essential time as combat arms units await the assignment of the first combat arms women who are currently making their way through their training pipelines.
The 4 primary authors have more than 70 years, combined, of military service. Together they combed through thousands of pages of research, conducted interviews and hosted a working group discussion with combat arms leaders to put together this first-of-its-kind Handbook. The Handbook exclusively addresses common challenges with gender integration in combat arms units and gives leaders and Soldiers best practices for successfully navigating the change process. Learn more about the Combat Integration Handbook here.
Chantal de Jonge Oudraat and Michael E. Brown
In March 2016, WIIS launched the Women, Terrorism, and Violent Extremism program. With the generous support of the Embassy of Liechtenstein in Washington, D.C., WIIS will facilitate a series of expert roundtables to explore the role of women in terrorist and violent extremist organizations, including the gendered dimensions of radicalization. These round tables will provide a forum for bringing together an international group of experts and policymakers from the counter-terrorism and Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) communities. Key takeaways and recommendations of expert roundtables will be captured and disseminated in the form of policy briefs.
The first Policy Brief draws on the first roundtable discussion, held on March 20, 2016. This roundtable featured four noted experts: Ms. Sanam Anderlini, Co-founder and Executive Director of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN); Dr. Kathleen Kuehnast, Senior Gender Advisor at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP); Dr. Paul Pillar, former official of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and now a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; and Dr. Lorenzo Vidino, Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. For more on this event, see wiisglobal.org/events.
Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, Sonja Stojanović-Gajić, Carolyn Washington, and Brooke Stedman
WIIS launched the 1325 Scorecard at NATO HQ on October 29, 2015. The 1325 Scorecard is a tool to evaluate how well the principles of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) are implemented within the armed forces of NATO Allies. It also provides NATO and NATO member and partner states indications of how to improve implementation. Finally, it helps to further standardization and interoperability amongst NATO Allies.
3-piece publication on the status of UNSCR 1325
- Gender Mainstreaming: Indicators for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 and Its Related Resolutions by Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, Sonja Stojanović‐Gajić, Carolyn Washington, and Brooke Stedman.
- Women in Combat - Adaptation and Change in the US Military by Ellen Haring.
- The Piece Missing from Peace by Jeannette Gaudry Haynie.