Women’s agency and the gendered impact of violent extremism in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and India
Several Asian countries are currently witnessing new waves of violent extremism that are making global headlines. Not only is there an increase in violence, but the cadres of extremist organizations have expanded to include the participation of young women in acts of violence. Brutal attacks are being committed in the name of various religions on schools, places of worship, and busy railway stations.
The analyses and policy responses to this increasing violent extremism have often been limited to state-centric perspectives of counterterrorism focusing on border security, military collaboration, and punitive criminal justice. However, violent extremism is not just a question of violence perpetrated by extremist groups; it is also a question of individuals who are inspired by extreme ideologies. Combating this type of violence means understanding the actors, their motivations, and the effects on ordinary lives. Limited efforts have been made to understand the ways that violent extremism affects the lives of ordinary people, and even less is known about its impact on women and girls. A gender perspective of violent extremism is missing in scholarship and policy.
This project will address violent extremism from a gender perspective, with a focus on its effects on the lives of women. The research will focus on how young women have experienced and navigated the forces of violent extremism in their lives, personally and in relation to marriage, family, community, and nation, and how they have participated in violent extremism or have resisted it through organizing and mobilizing. The research will contribute to developing rights-based strategies, including preventive strategies to address violent extremism through women’s leadership.
The project will develop a new feminist framework for viewing and analyzing violent extremism and will identify new ways to build bridges with the communities and individuals whose collaboration is key to combating it. Finally, the project will develop new policy directives for national and international interventions by foregrounding women’s experience as victims, participants, and resisters to violent extremism.