Women as Symbols and Swords in Boko Haram’s Terror

Authored by: Mia Bloom and Hilary Matfess

Categories: Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Violent Extremism
Country: Nigeria
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2016
Citation: Bloom, Mia and Hilary Matfess. “Women as Symbols and Swords in Boko Haram's Terror,” Prism 6, no. 1 (2016): 105-121

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Executive Summary

In June 2014, a middle-aged woman riding a motorcycle approached the military barracks in the North Eastern Nigerian city of Gombe. While being searched at the military checkpoint, she detonated the explosives strapped to her body, ending her life and killing a soldier in the process. With this act, a new chapter in the destructive history of Boko Haram began: the group joined the ranks of terrorist groups around the world that have incorporated women into their organizational profiles. However, Boko Haram depends on female operatives disproportionately. This article analyzes the roles of women and girls within Boko Haram and its ideology to elucidate the motivations, capabilities, and strategies of the organization.