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For over two decades, the global community has endeavored to prevent and combat violent extremism. In that time, states and civil society partners have increasingly recognized women’s role in this effort as critical to its success. The effective engagement of women, representing half of the world’s population, is now understood as necessary to a “localized, credible, inclusive, and resonant strateg[y] to build resilience to extremism.”

However, gender-sensitive and gender-effective approaches to preventing and countering violent extremism (PCVE) have remained elusive. Women’s involvement in PCVE strategies continue to be largely marginal, often reinforcing harmful stereotypes, and sometimes resulting in negative consequences for gender equality. This is particularly true for women in minority ethnic and religious communities. The failure to effectively address the discriminatory impact of PCVE strategies on women not only hampers the efficacy of PCVE efforts but also impedes state party implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), 2 which requires elimination of discriminatory laws, policies and programming. The failure to maximally engage women in PCVE efforts as leaders, designers, targets and partners also represents a lost opportunity to implement CEDAW Article 4 measures to accelerate women’s equality.

The International [Global] Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School conducted this study with support from United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The goal of the study is to contribute to a better understanding of how PCVE strategies and programming can effectively protect and promote women’s human rights and principles of gender equality. The study involved in-country engagements with stakeholders in Tunisia, Kenya and the United States. Through these interviews and an extensive literature review, the report assesses how such initiatives have engaged and impacted women and offers recommendations for improving strategies and interventions going forward.

ISBN: 978-1-7334730-5-7

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