Women and Al-Shabaab’s Insurgency

Authored by: International Crisis Group

Categories: Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Countering Violent Extremism, Violent Extremism
Country: Somalia
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2019
Citation: “Women and Al-Shabaab's Insurgency.” International Crisis Group, June 27, 2019.

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Executive Summary

Al-Shabaab’s Islamist insurgency remains a formidable fighting force in Somalia despite years of operations against it. Crisis Group’s interviews with women previously linked to Al-Shabaab, and verification of their statements with former militants and close observers of the movement, suggest that women also help sustain the insurgency. While Al-Shabaab imposes restrictions upon women, it can provide some security and its courts often uphold Islamic family law to their benefit. Some women recruit, fundraise, spy or smuggle arms for the group. While Al-Shabaab remains potent and controls some areas, women are likely to continue in such roles. But by developing a strategy against gender-based violence the Somali government could demonstrate that it is doing what it can to alleviate women’s suffering. It can better integrate women into the security forces and study women’s roles in Al-Shabaab to improve efforts against the militants.