Women and violent extremism: Myth and reality

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

What prompts a young, educated woman brought up in the West to run away to join a fundamentalist society where the role of women is highly circumscribed?

Until recently terrorism and the war on terrorism was considered very much a male province. In recent months, and especially since ISIS entered onto the scene in 2014, we have seen an increase in women’s involvement with radical Islam, especially in the areas of recruitment of other women and a willingness to engage in terrorist activities.

These women have also been described as passive recipients of jihadi ideals propagated by jihadi groups and especially the Islamic State. To what extent is this true? Do these women have agency? What are the push and pull factors driving them to engage in violent activities in the name of jihad?

This one-day conference examines how the role of women in radical Islam has changed over time. It aims to demystify the sensationalised female jihadi phenomenon and provide a better understanding of the gender dimension of the debate on jihad and radical Islam.