Local Voices Against Violence: Women Challenging Extremism in Iraq and Syria

Authored by: Alia Al-Kadi and Gina Vale

Categories: Conflict Prevention, Human Rights, Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Countering Violent Extremism, Democratization and Political Participation, Economic Participation, Human Development, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Violent Extremism
Region: Middle East and North Africa
Year: 2020
Citation: Al-Kadi, Alia and Gina Vale. “Local Voices Against Violence: Women Challenging Extremism in Iraq and Syria.” Conflict, Security & Development 20, no. 2 (2020).

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A significant proportion of research and initiatives challenging violence within Iraq and Syria centres on the international threat posed by Islamic State (Daesh). Consequently, much of this work is funded, designed, managed and implemented by external actors, with a security focus on Salafi-Jihadist groups and the mobilisation of (male) combatants. This paper has a dual purpose: to review and evaluate the progress of localised initiatives inside Iraq and Syria that focus on social cohesion and resilience to violence, and to explore and showcase the engagement of local women in this field. Drawing on multi-sector accounts of women serves to highlight and better understand their individual experiences, and the challenges and opportunities for female voices to be considered, amplified and impactful. This scope provides insight into individual and communal vulnerabilities to ‘radicalisation’ within Iraq and Syria and explores the successes and failures of female-led counter-initiatives. The paper underscores the experiences of these women from a local and non-western perspective and sheds light on what is being done on the ground to challenge violence post-Daesh.