In recent years, violent extremist activities have escalated dramatically. Around the world, such groups increasingly target women and women’s rights. Using sexual and gender-based violence, they terrorize communities and destroy the social fabric.

Governance deficiencies and structural gender inequalities feed the root causes of violent extremism – and exacerbate vulnerability to it. Different UN Security Council resolutions have recognized that violent extremism has gendered dimensions. These lead to varying consequences for women and girls, men and boys.

Women are frequently seen only as victims of violent extremism. But in reality, women play multiple roles, they are on the frontlines of prevention and response.

They lead civil society organizations and bolster community resilience. Promoting women as agents of peace recognizes their contributions to peacebuilding and prevention of violence and upholds respect for the human rights of everyone in areas afflicted by violent extremism.

Gender-responsive approaches to preventing violent extremism address the different needs and experiences of women and men. Such efforts can help States realize their international human rights commitments and provide effective services to citizens. Reducing gender inequality overall underpins greater community resilience, and the prevention of conflict and violent extremism.

UN Women’s work shows that supporting women’s empowerment, including economically and in post-conflict recovery planning and development, delivers positive results for women and communities.

Yet women’s participation in decision-making and security-related processes remain limited or absent.

UN Women strives to ensure that measures to prevent violent extremism are more inclusive, and better reflect women’s needs, agency, and leadership.

This training manual is designed for all local stakeholders working to prevent violence and violent extremism in their communities. It aims to strengthen understanding of the gender dimensions of violent extremist narratives, activity and mobilization, and may be helpful for local authorities and government officials, civil society, staff of UN agencies, and international and regional organizations. By advancing gender-responsive initiatives tailored to local needs, it seeks to restore societies that are just and peaceful for all.

About this guide

This publication serves as guidance for actors involved in the prevention and countering of violent extremism (P/CVE) in Europe and Central Asia including state officials, members of non-governmental organizations, community activists, staff of UN agencies, international and regional organizations to help them understand violent extremism’s gender dimensions. It is designed as a training guide, for staff and trainers who are working with different counterparts engaged in P/CVE, and want to help create more effective and gender-sensitive responses. Participants may for example include civil society activists, women leaders, teachers, journalists, lawyers, social workers, religious authorities, youth, police, local and national governmental officials.

The five modules in this guide include learning objectives, explanatory text, warm-up activities, practical exercises, references for further reading and empirical experiences from the region of Europe and Central Asia. Modules may be used all together or one-by-one.

The ideal timeframe for delivering the training using all the modules is at least two and a half days (half day per unit). The training is suitable for groups of five to twenty-five people. When organizing the workshop consider gender, age and diversity factors to have the richest learning experience possible. Participants should feel that they are in a safe space where they can openly share their ideas and experiences. Needed materials are indicated for the different exercises.

As the guide is aimed at increasing the awareness of persons with different levels of sensitivity and knowledge on violent extremism and gender equality, across Europe and Central Asia, it is an introduction which readers should complement with other resources for deeper and more technical insights. The training should also be tailored to the participants’ interests and needs and to the local context.

UN Women

Full guide available at Relief Web