Women targeted in the fight against terrorism

A new plan to empower women in the Northern frontier to take an active role in security and peace will be launched to address violent extremism.

Women in refugee camps, those within the host communities, police and civil society networks will also be targeted in the 18 months programme.

“We all know that violent extremism presents one of the greatest security threats to Kenya in recent times. Garissa County has been one of the most affected, and terrorist and extremist related attacks continue to be reported,” said Rahma Ahmed, who is spearheading the programme.

The programme will be rolled out by a non-governmental organization, Womankind Kenya, that seeks the inclusion of Women in Peace, Security and the humanitarian process.

Ahmed, the Program Officer of Womankind Kenya, said the 18-Months program is anchored on guidelines and oversight of National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) security actors, the department of gender and the community structures like peace committees, religious leaders, the youth and women.

She said that the objective of the project which is being implemented in Dadaab Sub County with string activities in Garissa Sub County is to increase the participation of women in peace and security process.

“The overall objective of the project is to promote women’s meaningful participation and influence in conflict prevention, specifically violent extremism, peacebuilding and social cohesion. It complements the NCTC’s strategy and the Garissa County Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism,” said Ahmed. 

Programme that is supported by UN-women and Japan in Kenya will also advance women’s involvement in the development of a gender responsive policies strategies and frameworks for countering violent Extremism.

“Youth are being radicalized and recruited into violent groups due to the high employment rate and poverty level. Refugees and the Host Communities are vulnerable to recruitment into Violent Extremism Organizations (VEOs) due to these social-economic difficulties,” said Ahmed.

She said that the programme is keen on building the resilience of women from host and refugee camps through economic activities.

“The project will target mainly women and youth in Dadaab refugee camp, the host communities, county and national government such as Police, Civil Society Organisations of women network in Dadaab,” she said.

Salah Yussuf, the project coordinator said the gender dimension of radicalisation leading to violence has received relatively little attention, despite the realization that women’s involvement in violent extremism.

He said it is also critical to recognize and appreciate the different roles men and women, boys and girls play in the refugee contexts of Dadaab Camps and host communities.

Yussuf said women have an important role to play in detecting and influencing against extremist thinking and behavior in their families and communities.

The threat of militant violence is highest along the Kenya-Somalia border in Lamu, Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera counties.

The group typically targets private citizens, law enforcement personnel, and transport vehicles.

Common tactics employed by Al-Shabaab militants include suicide operations, armed assaults, bomb/grenade attacks and kidnappings.

The County has largely been edged into the larger cycle of radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism.