Leveraging Partnerships and Strengthening Cooperation with Women to Counter and Prevent Violent Extremism and Terrorism in Africa
Mr. Adedeji Ebo
Mr. Adedeji Ebo, the Special Representative of the Secretary General for West Africa and the Sahel and Director of the Political Affairs Division, provided opening remarks on the current state of terrorism in Africa. Women play a critical role in terrorism because they are both victims and perpetrators. To address this issue, the “Dakar Call for Action” was created involving groups from civil society and the United Nations. The purpose of this document is to address violent extremism with women as the primary focus.
Essentially, we have to “put our money where our mouths are” and devote more resource into harnessing the expertise of women in combating terrorism in West Africa and the Sahel. Women should be at the forefront of policy on this issue and not silenced under patriarchy. Further, there needs to be more focus on local solutions in conjunction with a global frameworks, as demonstrated in the “Dakar Call for Action.” If you want to address “extremism, then you must have inclusion by working to make marginalized people feel welcomed in their communities.”
Ambassador Koro Bessho
Japanese diplomat Koro Bessho expressed that Japan is becoming more cautious of terrorism since they will be hosting the Olympics. Terrorism has not been on the psyche of Japanese society because they have not been adversely affected by it. Japan’s approach to fighting terrorism is centered around “whole of society,” meaning that everyone has an important place, role, and should be be included. Since marginalization is a problem, this approach is an excellent example of how to protect at risk youth from being empowered by Islamists ideology.
Women are agents in strengthening society by creating nurturing and inclusive communities. In fact women can recognize violent extremism at an early stage. The Tokyo Council on African Development (TCAD) works to improve social stability in Africa by utilizing the talents of women. Further, to tackle this issue effectively, we have to engage different actors in society and expand the conversation past men, incorporate the international community, and leverage the power of women’s networks. For example, the UN Women’s work has contributed to efforts all over the world to fight the root causes of terrorism. With the establishment of the Dakar Call to Action, the international community is taking the proper steps in addressing this issue. All things considered, this kind of partnership is valuable, should not be taken for granted, and is vital to this fight.
A representative from Civil Society remarked that terrorism has dramatic consequences all over the world and targets people of different ethnicities and religions. Currently, terrorists recruiters are using social media to commit atrocious crimes and spread their ideology to marginalized people. It is time that we act in solidarity to fight the causes that lead people to radicalize themselves and foster communities that are resistant to such ideologies. To do this, we must establish programs of awareness to prevent recruitment into radical Islamists terrorists groups. Thus, the international community must create effective plans of prevention, increase dialog, empower youth, women, and the competencies and of women.
Ms. Paivi Kannisto, UN Women Peace and Security Chief, expressed her happiness to have been a part of the Dakar Call to Action. The beauty in the Dakar document is its unified call to diverse stakeholders to take a stance on stopping the proliferation of Islamic Terrorism. In essence, the initiative is an effort to encourage young men and women to use creative means to bring about a solution to terrorism.
Civil society is an essential partner in countering extremism. Without it, much of the grassroots advocacy and strategic planning would not be done. To ensure the longevity of these organizations, financial support is vital. In this vein, Ms. Kannisto thanked Japan and Germany for their financial assistance funding initiatives to stop violent extremism and increase women’s involvement in the process. Further, the international community must continue to create operational partnerships and innovative ways to combat violent extremism.