Empowered Women, Peaceful Communities | Programme's brief
In April 2017, UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific began implementing one of UN Women’s largest programmes on preventing violent extremism “Empowered Women, Peaceful Communities”, with a focus on Indonesia and Bangladesh.
The programme is engaging in pioneering work by building understanding of women’s diverse roles in violent extremism, including as promoters or preventers. Through the programme, UN Women is working with women at the community level to support their empowerment as a key strategy for building social cohesion.
Independent research has found that the programme has directly contributed to increasing women’s understanding of the problem of violent extremism and their confidence to participate in initiatives to prevent it. Similar results were found in the wider communities in which the programme was implemented. Both men and women in the programme sites recognized that the economic empowerment of women decreased tensions within the family and community and thereby contributed to more peaceful and resilient societies.
Under this programme, UN Women has also developed new and innovative research on the gender specific dynamics of violent extremism as well as novel tools to collect sex-disaggregated and gender-sensitive data. For example, the first gender sensitive survey about the threat of radicalism and intolerance among Indonesians was commissioned. In addition, the first sex-disaggregated analysis of social media in Asia that examines where online appetite for extremist materials is greatest in the region was conducted. Further, this research analyses any potential or inferred association between support for violent extremist groups and violence against women.
UN Women has advocated for the integration of gender considerations in national, regional and intergovernmental peace and security processes. This includes providing dedicated gender expertise to Indonesia’s Counter Terrorism body as they develop their National Action Plan on Countering and Preventing Violent Extremism, and supporting ASEAN on Women, Peace and Security issues. In late 2017, ASEAN adopted its first Joint Statement on Women, Peace and Security, and convened the first ASEAN-UN discussion focused on the role of women in preventing violent extremism.
Through this programme, UN Women is contributing to the implementation of the Secretary General’s Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism and to the achievement of the Agenda 2030 goals, particularly SDG 16 on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, and Goal 5 on promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.