Women & Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism

Women & Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism

20 September 2022

Terrorism remains one of the key threats to security in East Africa. Addressing that threat requires a whole-of-society approach. In that regard, however, the contribution of women to counterterrorism processes tends to be overlooked. Counterterrorism, and notably criminal justice responses, is an area where there is room for improvement in closing the gender gap.

The Capacity-Building in the East Africa Region Working Group Co-Chairs, Egypt and the European Union, hosted a side event on the margins of the GCTF Twentieth Coordinating Committee in New York. This activity focused on the promotion of gender-sensitive approaches to leadership, policymaking and processes related to criminal justice responses to terrorism in East Africa. It brought together senior professionals focused on gender in the context of counterterrorism and criminal justice from GCTF Member countries, non-member countries, the GCTF Inspired Institutions, United Nations entities, civil society, and non-governmental organizations.

Closing the CT Gender Gap

Counterterrorism policies and measures to prevent violent extremism conducive to terrorism have tended to ignore the gender perspective or reduce it to general assumptions about the role of women in society. On the one hand, terrorist groups are generally assumed to be made up only of men. On the other hand, those fighting terrorism, be it in security forces or in judicial institutions, are primarily men too. The role of women in counterterrorism is still largely limited to perceived passive stereotypical roles (e.g., mother/wife figures) who are victims of terrorism. This shortage of gender diversity in the counterterrorism field, affects strategies, performance, efficiency, and the capacity to understand and respond to terrorism- and violent extremism-related challenges.

This GCTF activity encouraged reflection on solutions to improve awareness of gender in counterterrorism with a particular focus on promoting the participation of women in the field of criminal justice. More precisely, participants examined how to effectively implement a more gendered approach in the various phases of the criminal justice response to terrorism in East Africa.

Related GCTF resources:
Since 2011, the GCTF has developed Framework Documents outlining recommendations and good practices on various important aspects of counterterrorism and preventing and countering violent extremism conducive to terrorism, taking into consideration the roles played by women. These include: