As the country continues to address the growing threats of terrorism and violent extremism (VE) there is a realization that women are no longer victims but are increasingly taking a center role in terrorism and VE. Lesson learnt from previous peace building projects have emphasised on the key role women play in fostering community resilience and in influencing world-views and attitudes among young people hence should be looked at as key pre-requisite in interventions that are geared towards prevention and countering VE. During discussions with communities and leaders in 2016, communities felt they need to engage women leaders in the community to advance effort of countering VE as well as engage legislators to ensure policies address drivers of why women sympathize, join or become active members of violent extremism.
As a result, WIIS-HoA is implementing a project on Women Against Violent Extremism, supported by the Government of Canada, focusing on building capacities of women leaders to bridge gender gaps in prevention of VE. The project has two components, one of the project components will be to build capacities of women led organizations based in Kilifi, Kwale and Nairobi counties to build their skills on countering violent extremism, addressing gender in their programming and methodology to reach communities when building resilience.
The organizations are expected to hold dialogue forums within their community to discuss role of women in prevention and the importance of inclusivity and gender approach when tackling radicalization and violent extremism in communities. This, the project hopes will also lead to engendered approach towards ongoing efforts at these counties to develop action plans to address violent extremism.
The other component within the project includes capacity building members of Kenya Women Parliamentarian Association (KEWOPA) from the same counties to understand drivers of radicalization and extremism, prevention from a gender perspective and support policies that address these drivers. The capacity building exercise will provide them with a better understanding of CVE assisting them to better address its drivers in policy and legislative formulation. The project will further support the trained members to participate in the dialogue forums and other organized by the trained community based organizations within their communities to ensure they also get to learn first-hand of the impact of radicalization and terrorism in their communities especially in relation to women.
The project is based on two main objectives. Which focuses on the following;
i. Building capacities of Community Based Organisations (CBOs) to understand prevention from a gender perspective.
ii. Building capacities of women parliamentarians through the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) to better understand the drivers of radicalization and extremism so as to support policies that address these drivers.
Main activities implemented to contribute to the objectives include development of training guides, training of legislators and community-based organizations and facilitating the CBOs to jointly hold community awareness dialogues utilizing their preferred methodology to create awareness and empower communities on importance of prevention.
The project in the long run is expected to increase awareness of communities and civil society of the need for gender-sensitive engagement and dialogue with authorities and other key stakeholders in matters related counter-terrorism. At the same time increase their awareness and knowledge on strategies and processes to prevent and/or counter violent extremism. Knowledge among women legislators will be enhanced to ensure support of polices and legislations that address drivers and risks to radicalization and violent extremism among women.