A mother is a school: the influence of women in Preventing Violent Extremism

October 19, 2022

Photo: Workshop participants. 2022.

“An educated mother is a school in herself.”

-Hassan Abdulhadi Ali, 41, Adviser to the Governor of Basra and Chairman of the Countering Violent Extremism Committee

Inclusive participation of women is important to Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE). Ensuring women are properly equipped with knowledge to counter and prevent extremist ideology can contribute to promoting peaceful coexistence within communities now, as well as for future generations. UNDP Iraq is working to acknowledge and empower women when it comes to PVE, and from 11-12 October, UNDP and ICAN (the International Civil Society Action Network) held a two-day workshop on gender responsive approaches to transforming extremisms in Erbil, Iraq.

Close to thirty participants from Civil Society Organizations across Iraq, including members of the Women’s Empowerment Department and relevant government institution representatives from the governorates of Basra, Diyala and Thi Qar discussed the role of gender in violent extremist ideologies and recruitment, how this applies to the Iraqi context, and mapped civil society engagement, responses and gaps within this context.

Photo: Resala. 2022.

“Women have a great impact on society in general. We need to understand the social roles of women in perpetrating and preventing violent extremism, because they represent half of society.”

-Resala Majid Abbas, 47, Diyala governorate office employee.

Photo: Hassan. 2022.

“Women have a great role in building a cohesive, conscious, and educated society through the ideas that they impress upon their sons and daughters. We must work to educate women by engaging them in training courses that help them build their capabilities and increase their knowledge.”

-Hassan Abdulhadi Ali, 41, Adviser to the Governor of Basra, Chairman of the Countering Violent Extremism Committee

Photo: Angham. 2022.

“It is necessary to consider gender in preventing violent extremism, because some factors affect females more than they affect males. We also need awareness sessions to curb the phenomenon of domestic abuse against women.”

-Angham Ali Hussein, 33, Diyala, Vice President of Rita Organization for the Care of Children and Orphans

Photo: Alaa. 2022.

“We must continue raising awareness about early warning indicators that lead to violent extremism through such workshops, seminars and sessions with government institutions, universities, schools, women and young women in the community.”

-Alaa Naji Muhammad, Women Empowerment Department in Dhi Qar Governorate and Director of the Planning Directorate.

Support to Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) in Iraq is part of UNDP Iraq’s Social Cohesion Programme to promote stronger, peaceful, and more cohesive communities in all areas of Iraq.