The involvement of women in extremism and terrorism is not new. There have been many studies that reveal that women play an important role in the radicalism movement leading to terrorism in Indonesia and the world. The Surabaya bombing that occurred in May 2018, where mothers and children were involved as perpetrators, seemed to be a turning point for many national and global institutions to talk about the importance of Gender Mainstreaming in Countering Terrorism (CT) or Preventing / Countering Violent Extremism (P / CVE ).
I was invited to attend the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF) meeting, specifically the Working Group on CVE, as part of civil society to make an important contribution in reshaping the gender equality and women’s empowerment agenda at GCFT. This time the topic was specifically about Gender and CVE and CSO involvement in CVE work. Through the Working Group on CVE, led by Indonesia and Australia, a 2-day workshop was held in Melbourne on 18-19 December 2018 at Deakin University. The forum was attended by representatives of countries such as Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Maroco, Bangladesh, China, European Union, Japan, Netherland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, both from the government and from civil society.
There are two important parts in the workshop, namely looking at the achievements of working groups on CVE and the CSO Forum on gender and CVE and the involvement of civil society.
Introduced in 2011, the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF) is a multilateral, informal, and a-political platform formed to respond to terrorism. This forum is used to sharpen the joint strategy based on the best experience of countries that carry out CT and PCVE work. It is also a forum for meetings between policymakers, practitioners, and academics. In principle, GCTF underpins its work on The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy released in 2006.
With a variety of tools and knowledge consolidated by this forum, it is hoped that it can strengthen national capacity in making strategies, action plans, and training modules. Some of the issues of concern are a response to the Foreign Terrorist Fighter (FTF), CT with a human rights approach, Rehabilitation and reintegration, a multi-sector approach to CVE, strengthening community involvement and community-oriented policies, education, family roles, and so on. More in-depth can be learned at the following link https://www.thegctf.org/About-us/Background-and-Mission
Working Group on CVE
There are five working groups working under the GCTF, one of which is the Working Group on CVE which is led by Australia and Indonesia. one of the mandates of the WG is to strengthen the process of forming the PCVE NAP by the mandate given by the UN Secretary-General. In this 9th meeting, the two countries, both Australia and Indonesia, provided updates on the development of CVE’s work including the following:
- Australia: prison reform that improves the prison system, employees who work in prisons, and all standard operating procedures around handling terrorism in prisons
- Indonesia; activities related to monitoring evaluation, dealing with returning families, dealing with borders and controlling expected flows at the border, counter-narratives and deeper socialization about a whole society approach and encouraging cooperation with CSOs
- CSO: NAP PCVE publications in Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia (Headayah); increasing awareness that women are also active agents of terrorism and peacebuilding influencing the intervention framework,
Gender-Based PCVE and CSO Engagement
Gender is perspective not program. Gender Mainstreaming is a strategy to ensure that policies and programs have gender-sensitive indicators. Gender issues in PCVE came to the fore when the Surabaya Bombing in May 2018 occurred, where the involvement of the whole family (father, mother, and children) first occurred in the world. Only then do we all realize the importance of involving women in CT and PCVE interventions. In the 9th plenary session GCTF also raised the issue of gender and civil society involvement in work.
Gender as a perspective should be able to make us all better in seeing how women and men have access to be involved and not involved with radicalism, how someone has control over available resources, how women and men participate in determining the decision to do acts of terror, and who becomes “the significant others” who influence women and children in making decisions. In short, a gender perspective will intervene in “business as usual”.
To update on what civil society has succeeded in relating to efforts to strengthen gender equality and women’s empowerment in the context of PCVE, several resource persons from various CSOs represented the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, Morrocco, the Netherlands and so on. Following are some notes related to presentations during CSO workshops, namely:
- Gender is a perspective that sharpens us to understand more specifically the involvement of women and men in radicalism and terrorism. This is because the motivations that drive women and men are different, the capacity of the second access control to this network is also different.
- There is a fear that talking about gender will change PCVE’s focus on gender issues, so an explanation is needed between the relationship between women empowerment and CVE.
- The involvement of men is very important in efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment in CVE. So the exploration of masculinity and femininity in PCVE gender contraction needs to be reproduced in studies
- Online gender narratives are also dominated by men. Even very rarely found narratives related to women in reporting on general or specific topics on men
- The involvement of CSOs in rehabilitation and reintegration has been very effective, starting from making rehabilitation and reintegration SOPs using a human rights approach, as well as continuing rehabilitation efforts to be sustainable at the local level.
- CSOs also play a role in efforts to find access for justice for victims of violence due to conflict or extremism, including physical and mental recovery, as well as long-term economic empowerment efforts
- To strengthen the role of the family, there have been many initiatives to strengthen the role of the mother to influence the family to prevent extremism. One of them is Mother’s School which is run in various countries. This maternal school teaches how mothers can play an effective role in the detection of radicalism and terrorism. (This kind of school model is also widely used in Indonesia under different names, one of which is the Peace Women’s School (SPP) by AMAN Indonesia)
- The partnership between the government and CSOs is considered important and a more concrete mechanism that is more feasible and possible to realize a more effective partnership mechanism has been devised.