Discussion on the Future of Women in Violent Extremism

On May 1, 2018, the George Washington University’s Program on Extremism and the Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security hosted a discussion examining the future of women’s contribution to violent extremist groups in the U.S. and abroad. The panelists drew from their work as scholars and practitioners to forecast emerging threats and anticipated the challenges stakeholders might face in preventing, detecting, and countering women’s involvement in violent extremism. By learning from the past to prepare for the future, discussants highlighted the utility of cross-cutting, intersectional thinking across the arenas of counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, and counter-extremism. To promote gender-conscious programming, policies, and threat assessments, panelists confronted the recurring dissonance between the perceptions and realities of women’s participation in violent extremist movements around the world.


  • Dr. Nimmi Gowrinathan, Founder and Director of the Politics of Sexual Violence Initiative and Visiting Research Professor at the Colin Powell Center for Global and Civic Leadership at City College New York
  • Jamille Bigio, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Hilary Matfess, Author of “Women and the War on Boko Haram” and Ph.D. student at Yale


  • Audrey Alexander, Research Fellow, GW Program on Extremism