by Naomi MacMurdie
The Women Against Terrorism (WAT) program was recently launched by the anti-radicalization group Epuka Ugaidi with the collaboration of the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Kenya, the Embassy of Slovakia, the National Counter Terrorism Center, Integrated Initiatives for Community Empowerment, Aga Khan University Hospital, and the International Centre for Research on Women.
CEO of Epuka Ugaidi, Ikenye Kahugu, described women as “the best asset to defeat violent extremism.” The WAT program was designed specifically to promote women’s participation in security decision-making in areas affected by terrorism through roundtable discussions, workshops of socio-psychological support, and capacity building (digital skills training) in specific hot spot areas in Nairobi County.
“Though this has been under-researched and under-exploited by practitioners of violent extremism, it is important to note that [women’s] roles as mothers, nurturers, and primary agents of socialization in the society are an asset in fighting violent extremism,” said Ms. Kahugu. “They have influence over their children, spouses, and family members. Hence, [they are] more influential in intervening and creating alternative narratives acceptable to their families; they are quick to identify early warning signs and other behavioral changes during the process of radicalization.”
Mr. Daniel Juma, CEO of GPF Kenya, spoke on a panel at the WAT launch titled “Power Dynamics and Participation in Tackling Violent Extremism.” He emphasized education as a tool for peacebuilding and the family unit as the primary unit to instill change in society. Saying that “women have a lot of influence on the husbands and children,” Mr. Juma highlighted the importance of raising young people that have the confidence and skills to make their own way in society and, therefore, less susceptible to the offers of radicalization presented by terrorist groups.
Other speakers at the launch event concurred that building economic opportunities for women and youth and providing equal access to education for both boys and girls would advance opportunities for women leaders to influence violent extremism and involve women in policymaking at all levels.
Learn more at Kenya | Global Peace Foundation