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Boko Haram and Taliban
Role of women in
terrorist groups
Role of women in terrorism
Role of women in terrorism
Women have three distinct types of involvement: direct involvement in terrorist acts; enabling of
others to commit such acts; and facilitating the disengagement of others from violent or extremist
groups. Some other roles that women play are:
▪ Domestic Role: In the context of ISIS, women are often seen as home-makers, wives, and child-
raisers. However, this perspective overlooks their active participation and contribution to the
group’s aims.
▪ Radicalization: There is a narrative that young women are ‘groomed’ by men to join terrorist
groups. However, this discounts women’s own autonomous decision-making and agency in
deciding to join a terrorist group.
▪ Counter-terrorism Initiatives: Women can play a crucial role in counter-terrorism initiatives. A
study in Indonesia found that women are often the first to respond to radicalization and
extremism within communities
▪ Victims of Terrorism: Women are also victims of violent extremism. Extremist groups often
target women’s rights and use sexual violence to terrorize populations into compliance
Women have indeed been involved as perpetrators in both the Taliban and Boko Haram.
Here are some key points: points:
Taliban: Women’s roles in the Taliban are often restricted due to the group’s strict interpretation of
Islamic law. However, there have been instances where women have been involved in the group’s
activities. The international community has expressed concern over the Taliban’s policies that drive the
exclusion of women from public life and education
Boko Haram: Women have played significant roles in Boko Haram, an extremist group based in Nigeria
They have carried out terrorist attacks, commonly suicide bombings. However, it is not always clear
whether they do so willingly or are forced into it The motivations for women’s recruitment as victims
and perpetrators are not binary but fluid in nature
Understanding the role of women as perpetrators in these groups is vital for effective counter-
terrorism strategies
Role of women in terrorism
Taliban and Women
Background of Taliban
In Afghanistan, the Taliban (/ˈtaelɪbaen, ˈtɑːlɪbɑːn/;
Pashto: ‫طالبان‬, romanized: ṭālibān, lit.'students') is a
militant political movement known by its state name,
the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The American
invasion overthrew it after the 1996–2001 control
over three-quarters of the country. After nearly 20
years of insurgency, it conquered Kabul on 15 August
2021 and controlled the entire country after most
coalition forces left. However, no nation recognizes
its government. The Taliban has been criticized for
restricting Afghan women and girls' rights to work
and education.
Background of Taliban
The Taliban was formed in September 1994 as a major force in the Afghan Civil War. They
were primarily Pashtun students from eastern and southern Afghanistan who had attended
conventional Islamic institutions (madāris). The Mujahideen warlords lost control of the
movement led by Mullah Omar (r. 1996-2001) as it spread across Afghanistan. With control
of three-quarters of Afghanistan, the organization formed the First Islamic Emirate of
Afghanistan in 1996. The Northern Alliance group-controlled areas of northeast
Afghanistan and maintained international recognition as the provisional Islamic State of
Afghanistan, opposing the Taliban. The US invasion of Afghanistan in December 2001
overthrew the Taliban, who ruled much of Afghanistan. Pakistan hosted several Taliban
refugees.
Background of Taliban
After being deposed, the Taliban began an
insurgency against the US-backed Islamic Republic of
Afghanistan and the NATO-led ISAF in Afghanistan. In
May 2002, exiled members established the Council of
Leaders (Rahbarī Shūrā) in Quetta, Pakistan. In May
2021, under Hibatullah Akhundzada's command, the
Taliban launched a military effort that led to Kabul's
fall on August 15, 2021, returning control of
Afghanistan.
Background of Taliban
The Islamic Republic was dissolved and the Emirate was restored. After their 2021 return to
power, the Afghanistan government budget lost 80% of its financing and food shortages
spread. The Taliban reinstated several laws from its former control, including banning women
from practically any profession, mandating them to wear burqas, prohibiting them from
travelling without male guardians and outlawing girls' education.
Role of women in Taliban
Women in Taliban
Women have played wide-ranging and pivotal roles
in Afghanistan over the past four decades of war as
mobilizers, sympathizers, logistic providers,
informants, and preventers of violence.
▪ Their support for mujahedeen groups or
involvement in any other terrorist group is
different from their support for Taliban
▪ The legitimacy of the Taliban’s jihad and
methods are far more contested.
▪ One marked difference is the role in society
accorded to women, and thus the forms of
support women are able to provide.
Women as suicide bombers in Taliban
Leaders of the primary Taliban faction in Afghanistan believe
that women should not take part in combat.
▪ Yet on rare occasions they have used women was
suicide bombers
▪ In 2011, Taliban claimed their suicide bomber who
attacked and took a dozen policemen hostage in a town
near the region of South Waziristan policemen hostage
for several hours, along with her militant husband
▪ Now, post-2021 Taliban rulers of Afghanistan have
formally announced the formation of a “suicide bomber
brigade” which will ironically have the first unit of women
“fighters.”
Women are worn as a “badge of difference” between the faithful and unbelievers, portrayed
as a marker of purity. Core Taliban groups have long maintained that women have a very
limited social role in society.
▪ Taliban uses video clips of alleged Afghan women dancing for American soldiers to
incite them to join.
▪ The men are reminded of their religious and social duties to protect their religion and
honor.
▪ Women’s bodies are also offered by many violent extremist groups as rewards for the
pious and brave, both in paradise and as long as they are committed supporters of the
group.
▪ Afghan women are often perceived as nonthreatening by security forces so violent
extremists, including bombers, disguise themselves in women’s clothes and burka.
Women as Jihadist tactics in Taliban
Impact of Taliban on
Women in Afghanistan
Taliban disregards women’s rights in Afghanistan
▪ women are denied their fundamental rights and
freedoms including the rights to education, to work,
physical and mental health, freedom of movement and
freedom from fear.
▪ All over the country, women report feeling invisible,
isolated, suffocated, living in prison like conditions.
▪ Some families even marry off their daughters early as a
form of protection: to avoid them later being forced to
marry a Taliban fighter.
▪ Other families actually choose to marry off their
daughter to a Taliban in order to gain protection for the
family.
Impact of Taliban on
Women in Afghanistan
Women are excluded from job and education
▪ Since the Taliban seized power in 2021, women have
been banned from higher learning. Initially and strictly
separated at universities.
▪ For some time, female students could only be taught
by other women or older men
▪ In late 2022, a decree by the Afghan Education Ministry
put an end to this and expelled women from
universities completely.
▪ Since the Taliban took power, professional
opportunities for women have been severely restricted.
▪ Many women lost their jobs. Others are only allowed to
continue if they work from home.
▪ Any women who do still have a job to go to have to be
accompanied on their journey to work by a male
(mahram)
Health care and freedom of
movement is also restricted
▪ Each year, about 70 out of 1,000 women die while
pregnant or giving birth. Many mothers do not have
enough to eat
▪ After giving birth, they struggle to feed their
children.
▪ Taliban's decision to exclude women from higher
education and their employment at aid organizations
has drastically worsened access to medical
treatment.
▪ In Afghanistan, women are required to wear a burqa,
a garment which covers the entire body. If a woman
does not comply with this regulation, her male
relatives risk jail time.
▪ The Taliban's edict forbids women from visiting
parks, fitness studios, public pools, gymnasiums and
sports clubs, making sports practically impossible
for women.
Women’s rights work within
civil society under severe
pressure
▪ Since August 2021, Afghan women have repeatedly
held demonstrations demanding education, work,
justice and peace.
▪ Civil society organisations and activists draw on
their creativity and hope to continue their work for
the rights of women and girls
Boko Haram and women
Background of Boko
Haram
▪ Boko Haram is an Islamist militant group based in
Nigeria, which is also active in Chad, Niger, northern
Cameroon, and Mali. It is popularly known in
Nigerian and Western Media as Boko Haram which
means, "Western education is forbidden or a Sin".
Boko Haram was the world's deadliest terror group
during part of the mid-2010s according to the
Global Terrorism Index.
▪ It was founded in the early 2000s, by Muhammad
Yusuf, with its roots traced back to the town of
Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria. The group's full
name, Jama'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wal-Jihad,
translates to "People Committed to the Propagation
of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad.
Background of Boko Haram
▪ "Boko Haram's primary objectives include establishing a strict interpretation of Islamic law
(Sharia) in Nigeria and opposing what they perceive as Western education and influence. The
group seeks to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria governed by their extremist ideology.
▪ The group gained international attention and widespread exposure in July 2009, for its brutal
tactics, including bombings, kidnappings, and attacks on civilians and security forces like
police. Over the years, Boko Haram has been responsible for numerous violent incidents,
resulting in significant loss of life and displacement of millions of people in Nigeria and
neighboring countries.
▪ Boko Haram's leadership has evolved over the years, and Yusuf, a radical Islamic cleric, was
killed in 2009, along with 700 members of the group by the Joint Military Task Force. After his
death, Abubakar Shekau emerged as one of the group's prominent leaders and played a
significant role in its continued activities. The group has seen emerging factions afterwards.
▪ This militant Islamist group has involved women in various
roles, including combatants, suicide bombers, recruiters,
and support personnel. More than 60% of the suicide
bombers are women. Women and teen-aged girls have
been coerced, abducted, or willingly joined the group.
Their involvement highlights the complex dynamics of
conflict and terrorism, with some women participating due
to ideological beliefs, while others are forced into these
roles.
▪ Efforts to combat Boko Haram have involved the Nigerian
military, regional African forces, and international support.
Despite setbacks, the group has continued to operate in
pockets of northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin
region.
Background of Boko Haram
Role of women in Boko Haram
Women's Roles in Boko
Haram - Moving Beyond
Victimhood
The multifaceted roles of women within Boko Haram that
emphasize that they are not merely victims but active
participants.
▪Instrumentalization of Women: Boko Haram utilizes women
as instruments of violence and terror, challenging traditional
gender norms. Notably, female suicide bombers are deployed,
including coerced young girls.
▪Recruitment and Propaganda: Women actively participate in
recruitment and the dissemination of extremist ideology, often
effectively reaching potential female recruits.
Women's Roles in Boko Haram -
Moving Beyond Victimhood
▪ Logistical Support: Women provide crucial logistical support by transporting weapons and
supplies, leveraging gender stereotypes.
▪ Impact on Security: Women's involvement enhances Boko Haram's operational capabilities
and presents unique security challenges, often overlooked by security forces.
▪ Humanitarian Implications: Women associated with Boko Haram, even if involuntarily, face
stigmatization and suspicion, complicating reintegration and rehabilitation efforts.
The Weaponization of
Women: Tactics and Impact
▪ Multiple Roles of Women: Women in Boko Haram serve
as wives, weapons carriers, and witnesses, with these
roles intersecting and contributing to the group's
functioning.
▪ Marriage and Recruitment: Forced marriages are a
common recruitment tactic, exemplified by cases like
Amina Ali Nkeki, a Chibok schoolgirl.
▪ Logistical Support: Women play a pivotal role in logistics,
transporting essential items, and exploiting their
perceived non-threatening status.
▪ Witnesses to Violence: Women are not passive; they
often witness and are complicit in acts of violence,
providing critical insights.
The Weaponization of Women: Tactics
and Impact
▪ Complex Identities: Women's identities within Boko Haram are multifaceted,
encompassing victims, perpetrators, witnesses, and even peacemakers.
▪ Policy Implications: Understanding these complex roles is vital for developing effective
policies and strategies to address the conflict, necessitating a gender-sensitive approach
to counterterrorism.
▪ This highlights that women within Boko Haram are not just victims but also key actors in
the group's activities. The involvement of women as active participants in Boko Haram
challenges traditional gender roles in conflict and presents complex security and
humanitarian challenges.
Women as symbols in Boko Haram
Boko Haram's strategically uses women as symbols to
communicate, reinforce, and advance the group's ideology
and objectives, contributing to the broader narrative the group
seeks to construct with its followers and the wider public.
▪ Ideological Representation: Boko Haram uses women as
symbols to represent its ideological stance, opposing
Western education and women's rights. They claim to be
the vanguard of "true Islam" based on a perverse
interpretation of a Quranic hadith, suggesting infants are
born with a natural disposition to accept Islam but can be
socialized to accept other religions.
Women as symbols in Boko Haram
▪ Propaganda and Messaging: Boko Haram uses images of persecuted Muslim women, the
model of the righteous Muslim wife, as symbols for future fighters. Many women have
experienced abuse, sexual exploitation, and brainwashing to convert them to Boko Haram's
ideology, which terrorizes Nigerians, setting it apart from other Nigerian Salafi movements
like Yan Izala, which promotes modern education for both girls and boys.
▪ Manipulation of Gender Norms: Boko Haram's members provide women with high-quality
Islamic education, healthcare, and financial empowerment through marriage. They aim to
prepare women for future roles as mothers and wives, highlighting their gendered role in
Nigerian society. It also exploits gender roles, using women suicide bombers for "soft" targets
like mosques and markets to attract less suspicion and surprise soldiers.
Women as symbols in Boko Haram
▪ Instrumentalization for Recruitment: Nigerian women, often marginalized due to armed
conflict, have turned to Islam for control over their lives, leading to recruitment in Boko
Haram. Sexual violence, family rejection, and widowhood also contribute to women joining
the group. Many female recruits are young girls kidnapped and abducted, such as in Chibok,
prompting the #bringbackourgirls campaign.
▪ Control and Intimidation: Sexual violence, a manifestation of aggression, destroys families
and communities, making it a valuable tool for terrorist groups. Boko Haram's leader,
Abubakar Shekau, effectively used the Chibok girls' symbolism to convey their strength and
ideology. Young girls who have experienced psychological trauma or been raped have been
the perpetrators of numerous attacks. Shekau is seen as a savior for the abducted girls
featured in burqas, preventing them from engaging in infidel lifestyles and institutions.
Impact of Boko Haram
on Women in Nigeria
Boko Haram has had a devastating impact on women in Nigeria.
Some of the critical effects include:
Impact on Women's Education
▪ Boko Haram's name translates to "Western education is
forbidden."
▪ Boko Haram’s targeted attacks on schools and the abduction of
school girls.
▪ Girls are dropped out of school early for fear of abduction by
Boko Haram.
▪ They had been forced to suspend their education permanently
and dropped out of school after their school was attacked.
▪ Many schools were also closed for significant periods due to
insecurity.
▪ Many girls have been deprived of their right to education.
▪ This situation contributed to parents’ and students’ fears about
the safety of sending their children outside.
Impact of Boko Haram
on Women in Nigeria
Abduction and Forced Marriage
Boko Haram is known for abducting young girls and
women, subjecting them to forced marriages and
sexual slavery.
▪ This has caused immense trauma and suffering for
these women.
▪ They were forced to marry a Boko Haram fighter
▪ Displacement and Loss of Livelihoods
▪ The conflict caused by Boko Haram has led to
widespread displacement.
▪ It is difficult to bear the brunt of this displacement for
women and children.
▪ They suffered from inadequate living conditions and a
loss of their means of livelihood.
Impact of Boko Haram
on Women in Nigeria
Social Stigma and Discrimination
▪ Women who have been associated with Boko Haram,
even if they were victims themselves, often face
stigma and discrimination from their communities. The
stigmatization makes the reintegration process
challenging.
▪ Healthcare Challenges: Access to healthcare is limited
in conflict-affected areas, women didn’t get access to
reproductive health services and maternal care,
putting their health and the health of their children at
risk.
Preventing women from joining
terrorist groups
Education and Awareness: Increase understanding of how gender-based differences fuel
women’s involvement in extremist groups
Support Local Actors: Support, educate, and partner with peaceful local actors, particularly
wives, mothers, and young people, to dissuade potential recruits
Promote Gender Equality: Prioritize gender equality and women’s empowerment in
efforts to prevent violent extremism.
Human Rights-Oriented Approach: Ensure that efforts are human rights-oriented and
conflict-sensitive, in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 5 (Gender Equality),
SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong institutions)
Preventing women from joining terrorist
groups
Women’s Participation: Enlist women in efforts to combat radicalization. Women are
well positioned to detect early signs of radicalization as they often have distinctive
access and influence in schools, religious institutions, social environments, and local
government
Address Grievances: Address grievances, inequalities, and governance deficits that
violent extremist groups exploit to recruit followers
Remember that these strategies should be tailored to the specific cultural and
societal context for them to be effective.
Preventing women from joining terrorist
groups
role of women and girls in various terror groups

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role of women and girls in various terror groups

  • 1. Boko Haram and Taliban Role of women in terrorist groups
  • 2. Role of women in terrorism
  • 3. Role of women in terrorism Women have three distinct types of involvement: direct involvement in terrorist acts; enabling of others to commit such acts; and facilitating the disengagement of others from violent or extremist groups. Some other roles that women play are: ▪ Domestic Role: In the context of ISIS, women are often seen as home-makers, wives, and child- raisers. However, this perspective overlooks their active participation and contribution to the group’s aims. ▪ Radicalization: There is a narrative that young women are ‘groomed’ by men to join terrorist groups. However, this discounts women’s own autonomous decision-making and agency in deciding to join a terrorist group. ▪ Counter-terrorism Initiatives: Women can play a crucial role in counter-terrorism initiatives. A study in Indonesia found that women are often the first to respond to radicalization and extremism within communities ▪ Victims of Terrorism: Women are also victims of violent extremism. Extremist groups often target women’s rights and use sexual violence to terrorize populations into compliance
  • 4. Women have indeed been involved as perpetrators in both the Taliban and Boko Haram. Here are some key points: points: Taliban: Women’s roles in the Taliban are often restricted due to the group’s strict interpretation of Islamic law. However, there have been instances where women have been involved in the group’s activities. The international community has expressed concern over the Taliban’s policies that drive the exclusion of women from public life and education Boko Haram: Women have played significant roles in Boko Haram, an extremist group based in Nigeria They have carried out terrorist attacks, commonly suicide bombings. However, it is not always clear whether they do so willingly or are forced into it The motivations for women’s recruitment as victims and perpetrators are not binary but fluid in nature Understanding the role of women as perpetrators in these groups is vital for effective counter- terrorism strategies Role of women in terrorism
  • 6. Background of Taliban In Afghanistan, the Taliban (/ˈtaelɪbaen, ˈtɑːlɪbɑːn/; Pashto: ‫طالبان‬, romanized: ṭālibān, lit.'students') is a militant political movement known by its state name, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The American invasion overthrew it after the 1996–2001 control over three-quarters of the country. After nearly 20 years of insurgency, it conquered Kabul on 15 August 2021 and controlled the entire country after most coalition forces left. However, no nation recognizes its government. The Taliban has been criticized for restricting Afghan women and girls' rights to work and education.
  • 7. Background of Taliban The Taliban was formed in September 1994 as a major force in the Afghan Civil War. They were primarily Pashtun students from eastern and southern Afghanistan who had attended conventional Islamic institutions (madāris). The Mujahideen warlords lost control of the movement led by Mullah Omar (r. 1996-2001) as it spread across Afghanistan. With control of three-quarters of Afghanistan, the organization formed the First Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in 1996. The Northern Alliance group-controlled areas of northeast Afghanistan and maintained international recognition as the provisional Islamic State of Afghanistan, opposing the Taliban. The US invasion of Afghanistan in December 2001 overthrew the Taliban, who ruled much of Afghanistan. Pakistan hosted several Taliban refugees.
  • 8. Background of Taliban After being deposed, the Taliban began an insurgency against the US-backed Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the NATO-led ISAF in Afghanistan. In May 2002, exiled members established the Council of Leaders (Rahbarī Shūrā) in Quetta, Pakistan. In May 2021, under Hibatullah Akhundzada's command, the Taliban launched a military effort that led to Kabul's fall on August 15, 2021, returning control of Afghanistan.
  • 9. Background of Taliban The Islamic Republic was dissolved and the Emirate was restored. After their 2021 return to power, the Afghanistan government budget lost 80% of its financing and food shortages spread. The Taliban reinstated several laws from its former control, including banning women from practically any profession, mandating them to wear burqas, prohibiting them from travelling without male guardians and outlawing girls' education.
  • 10. Role of women in Taliban
  • 11. Women in Taliban Women have played wide-ranging and pivotal roles in Afghanistan over the past four decades of war as mobilizers, sympathizers, logistic providers, informants, and preventers of violence. ▪ Their support for mujahedeen groups or involvement in any other terrorist group is different from their support for Taliban ▪ The legitimacy of the Taliban’s jihad and methods are far more contested. ▪ One marked difference is the role in society accorded to women, and thus the forms of support women are able to provide.
  • 12. Women as suicide bombers in Taliban Leaders of the primary Taliban faction in Afghanistan believe that women should not take part in combat. ▪ Yet on rare occasions they have used women was suicide bombers ▪ In 2011, Taliban claimed their suicide bomber who attacked and took a dozen policemen hostage in a town near the region of South Waziristan policemen hostage for several hours, along with her militant husband ▪ Now, post-2021 Taliban rulers of Afghanistan have formally announced the formation of a “suicide bomber brigade” which will ironically have the first unit of women “fighters.”
  • 13. Women are worn as a “badge of difference” between the faithful and unbelievers, portrayed as a marker of purity. Core Taliban groups have long maintained that women have a very limited social role in society. ▪ Taliban uses video clips of alleged Afghan women dancing for American soldiers to incite them to join. ▪ The men are reminded of their religious and social duties to protect their religion and honor. ▪ Women’s bodies are also offered by many violent extremist groups as rewards for the pious and brave, both in paradise and as long as they are committed supporters of the group. ▪ Afghan women are often perceived as nonthreatening by security forces so violent extremists, including bombers, disguise themselves in women’s clothes and burka. Women as Jihadist tactics in Taliban
  • 14. Impact of Taliban on Women in Afghanistan Taliban disregards women’s rights in Afghanistan ▪ women are denied their fundamental rights and freedoms including the rights to education, to work, physical and mental health, freedom of movement and freedom from fear. ▪ All over the country, women report feeling invisible, isolated, suffocated, living in prison like conditions. ▪ Some families even marry off their daughters early as a form of protection: to avoid them later being forced to marry a Taliban fighter. ▪ Other families actually choose to marry off their daughter to a Taliban in order to gain protection for the family.
  • 15. Impact of Taliban on Women in Afghanistan Women are excluded from job and education ▪ Since the Taliban seized power in 2021, women have been banned from higher learning. Initially and strictly separated at universities. ▪ For some time, female students could only be taught by other women or older men ▪ In late 2022, a decree by the Afghan Education Ministry put an end to this and expelled women from universities completely. ▪ Since the Taliban took power, professional opportunities for women have been severely restricted. ▪ Many women lost their jobs. Others are only allowed to continue if they work from home. ▪ Any women who do still have a job to go to have to be accompanied on their journey to work by a male (mahram)
  • 16. Health care and freedom of movement is also restricted ▪ Each year, about 70 out of 1,000 women die while pregnant or giving birth. Many mothers do not have enough to eat ▪ After giving birth, they struggle to feed their children. ▪ Taliban's decision to exclude women from higher education and their employment at aid organizations has drastically worsened access to medical treatment. ▪ In Afghanistan, women are required to wear a burqa, a garment which covers the entire body. If a woman does not comply with this regulation, her male relatives risk jail time. ▪ The Taliban's edict forbids women from visiting parks, fitness studios, public pools, gymnasiums and sports clubs, making sports practically impossible for women.
  • 17. Women’s rights work within civil society under severe pressure ▪ Since August 2021, Afghan women have repeatedly held demonstrations demanding education, work, justice and peace. ▪ Civil society organisations and activists draw on their creativity and hope to continue their work for the rights of women and girls
  • 18. Boko Haram and women
  • 19. Background of Boko Haram ▪ Boko Haram is an Islamist militant group based in Nigeria, which is also active in Chad, Niger, northern Cameroon, and Mali. It is popularly known in Nigerian and Western Media as Boko Haram which means, "Western education is forbidden or a Sin". Boko Haram was the world's deadliest terror group during part of the mid-2010s according to the Global Terrorism Index. ▪ It was founded in the early 2000s, by Muhammad Yusuf, with its roots traced back to the town of Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria. The group's full name, Jama'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wal-Jihad, translates to "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad.
  • 20. Background of Boko Haram ▪ "Boko Haram's primary objectives include establishing a strict interpretation of Islamic law (Sharia) in Nigeria and opposing what they perceive as Western education and influence. The group seeks to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria governed by their extremist ideology. ▪ The group gained international attention and widespread exposure in July 2009, for its brutal tactics, including bombings, kidnappings, and attacks on civilians and security forces like police. Over the years, Boko Haram has been responsible for numerous violent incidents, resulting in significant loss of life and displacement of millions of people in Nigeria and neighboring countries. ▪ Boko Haram's leadership has evolved over the years, and Yusuf, a radical Islamic cleric, was killed in 2009, along with 700 members of the group by the Joint Military Task Force. After his death, Abubakar Shekau emerged as one of the group's prominent leaders and played a significant role in its continued activities. The group has seen emerging factions afterwards.
  • 21. ▪ This militant Islamist group has involved women in various roles, including combatants, suicide bombers, recruiters, and support personnel. More than 60% of the suicide bombers are women. Women and teen-aged girls have been coerced, abducted, or willingly joined the group. Their involvement highlights the complex dynamics of conflict and terrorism, with some women participating due to ideological beliefs, while others are forced into these roles. ▪ Efforts to combat Boko Haram have involved the Nigerian military, regional African forces, and international support. Despite setbacks, the group has continued to operate in pockets of northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region. Background of Boko Haram
  • 22. Role of women in Boko Haram
  • 23. Women's Roles in Boko Haram - Moving Beyond Victimhood The multifaceted roles of women within Boko Haram that emphasize that they are not merely victims but active participants. ▪Instrumentalization of Women: Boko Haram utilizes women as instruments of violence and terror, challenging traditional gender norms. Notably, female suicide bombers are deployed, including coerced young girls. ▪Recruitment and Propaganda: Women actively participate in recruitment and the dissemination of extremist ideology, often effectively reaching potential female recruits.
  • 24. Women's Roles in Boko Haram - Moving Beyond Victimhood ▪ Logistical Support: Women provide crucial logistical support by transporting weapons and supplies, leveraging gender stereotypes. ▪ Impact on Security: Women's involvement enhances Boko Haram's operational capabilities and presents unique security challenges, often overlooked by security forces. ▪ Humanitarian Implications: Women associated with Boko Haram, even if involuntarily, face stigmatization and suspicion, complicating reintegration and rehabilitation efforts.
  • 25. The Weaponization of Women: Tactics and Impact ▪ Multiple Roles of Women: Women in Boko Haram serve as wives, weapons carriers, and witnesses, with these roles intersecting and contributing to the group's functioning. ▪ Marriage and Recruitment: Forced marriages are a common recruitment tactic, exemplified by cases like Amina Ali Nkeki, a Chibok schoolgirl. ▪ Logistical Support: Women play a pivotal role in logistics, transporting essential items, and exploiting their perceived non-threatening status. ▪ Witnesses to Violence: Women are not passive; they often witness and are complicit in acts of violence, providing critical insights.
  • 26. The Weaponization of Women: Tactics and Impact ▪ Complex Identities: Women's identities within Boko Haram are multifaceted, encompassing victims, perpetrators, witnesses, and even peacemakers. ▪ Policy Implications: Understanding these complex roles is vital for developing effective policies and strategies to address the conflict, necessitating a gender-sensitive approach to counterterrorism. ▪ This highlights that women within Boko Haram are not just victims but also key actors in the group's activities. The involvement of women as active participants in Boko Haram challenges traditional gender roles in conflict and presents complex security and humanitarian challenges.
  • 27. Women as symbols in Boko Haram Boko Haram's strategically uses women as symbols to communicate, reinforce, and advance the group's ideology and objectives, contributing to the broader narrative the group seeks to construct with its followers and the wider public. ▪ Ideological Representation: Boko Haram uses women as symbols to represent its ideological stance, opposing Western education and women's rights. They claim to be the vanguard of "true Islam" based on a perverse interpretation of a Quranic hadith, suggesting infants are born with a natural disposition to accept Islam but can be socialized to accept other religions.
  • 28. Women as symbols in Boko Haram ▪ Propaganda and Messaging: Boko Haram uses images of persecuted Muslim women, the model of the righteous Muslim wife, as symbols for future fighters. Many women have experienced abuse, sexual exploitation, and brainwashing to convert them to Boko Haram's ideology, which terrorizes Nigerians, setting it apart from other Nigerian Salafi movements like Yan Izala, which promotes modern education for both girls and boys. ▪ Manipulation of Gender Norms: Boko Haram's members provide women with high-quality Islamic education, healthcare, and financial empowerment through marriage. They aim to prepare women for future roles as mothers and wives, highlighting their gendered role in Nigerian society. It also exploits gender roles, using women suicide bombers for "soft" targets like mosques and markets to attract less suspicion and surprise soldiers.
  • 29. Women as symbols in Boko Haram ▪ Instrumentalization for Recruitment: Nigerian women, often marginalized due to armed conflict, have turned to Islam for control over their lives, leading to recruitment in Boko Haram. Sexual violence, family rejection, and widowhood also contribute to women joining the group. Many female recruits are young girls kidnapped and abducted, such as in Chibok, prompting the #bringbackourgirls campaign. ▪ Control and Intimidation: Sexual violence, a manifestation of aggression, destroys families and communities, making it a valuable tool for terrorist groups. Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, effectively used the Chibok girls' symbolism to convey their strength and ideology. Young girls who have experienced psychological trauma or been raped have been the perpetrators of numerous attacks. Shekau is seen as a savior for the abducted girls featured in burqas, preventing them from engaging in infidel lifestyles and institutions.
  • 30. Impact of Boko Haram on Women in Nigeria Boko Haram has had a devastating impact on women in Nigeria. Some of the critical effects include: Impact on Women's Education ▪ Boko Haram's name translates to "Western education is forbidden." ▪ Boko Haram’s targeted attacks on schools and the abduction of school girls. ▪ Girls are dropped out of school early for fear of abduction by Boko Haram. ▪ They had been forced to suspend their education permanently and dropped out of school after their school was attacked. ▪ Many schools were also closed for significant periods due to insecurity. ▪ Many girls have been deprived of their right to education. ▪ This situation contributed to parents’ and students’ fears about the safety of sending their children outside.
  • 31. Impact of Boko Haram on Women in Nigeria Abduction and Forced Marriage Boko Haram is known for abducting young girls and women, subjecting them to forced marriages and sexual slavery. ▪ This has caused immense trauma and suffering for these women. ▪ They were forced to marry a Boko Haram fighter ▪ Displacement and Loss of Livelihoods ▪ The conflict caused by Boko Haram has led to widespread displacement. ▪ It is difficult to bear the brunt of this displacement for women and children. ▪ They suffered from inadequate living conditions and a loss of their means of livelihood.
  • 32. Impact of Boko Haram on Women in Nigeria Social Stigma and Discrimination ▪ Women who have been associated with Boko Haram, even if they were victims themselves, often face stigma and discrimination from their communities. The stigmatization makes the reintegration process challenging. ▪ Healthcare Challenges: Access to healthcare is limited in conflict-affected areas, women didn’t get access to reproductive health services and maternal care, putting their health and the health of their children at risk.
  • 33. Preventing women from joining terrorist groups
  • 34. Education and Awareness: Increase understanding of how gender-based differences fuel women’s involvement in extremist groups Support Local Actors: Support, educate, and partner with peaceful local actors, particularly wives, mothers, and young people, to dissuade potential recruits Promote Gender Equality: Prioritize gender equality and women’s empowerment in efforts to prevent violent extremism. Human Rights-Oriented Approach: Ensure that efforts are human rights-oriented and conflict-sensitive, in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong institutions) Preventing women from joining terrorist groups
  • 35. Women’s Participation: Enlist women in efforts to combat radicalization. Women are well positioned to detect early signs of radicalization as they often have distinctive access and influence in schools, religious institutions, social environments, and local government Address Grievances: Address grievances, inequalities, and governance deficits that violent extremist groups exploit to recruit followers Remember that these strategies should be tailored to the specific cultural and societal context for them to be effective. Preventing women from joining terrorist groups