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Women’s Education Lauded in Combating Terrorism

On April 3, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing, “Women’s Education: Promoting Development, Countering Radicalism.”

“Education provides critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills that are essential to understanding how individuals are radicalized and how to counter such extremist messages,” said Dr. Kathleen Kuehnast, director, Gender and Peacebuilding Center, United States Institute of Peace (USIP). “The US Institute of Peace is focusing on the broad range of roles women play in the prevention of violent extremism. USIP is piloting a project in Nigeria that emphasizes the importance of women’s roles in their communities and homes, and the need to build upon local level practices in order to counter trends toward extremism…As the result of this training, they have expanded their roles to both monitor and provide counseling and guidance to vulnerable youth. From its work in Nigeria, USIP has learned that training in critical thinking and problem solving enables women to combat violent extremism at home, in the community, at the national level, and at the global level.”

Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi, president, World Organization for Resource Development and Education, also warned: “Unfortunately, the risk of radicalization is not exclusive to men…In regions throughout South and Southeast Asia, the US and some parts of Europe, women are being indoctrinated into a very austere and intolerant interpretation of religion, which encourages a bifurcated world view hostile to non-believers and discourages women from working outside the home…This indoctrination leads some women to be not only sympathizers and supporters of radical ideologies – but also perpetrators of terror. According to a recent report by the OSCE Secretariat on women and countering violent extremism (CVE), women have perpetuated enough attacks and are being continually recruited for further plots, that it warrants designing effective ‘gender-sensitive and human rights-compliant preventive actions.’”

Humera Khan, executive director, Muflehun, also testified during the hearing.

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