It is an honour to be here with you today and discuss this important subject. A special thanks to our co-hosts Qatar, Tunisia and Nigér.
Terrorists today do not separate between women, men, girls or boys when choosing victims. The terrorist attacks - be it in big cities in North America, Europe, Asia or Africa, or in smaller villages or remote areas – have all claimed victims of both gender and all ages. In many communities, women are the backbone of the society. Several extremist groups have made it part of their strategy to attack women’s rights. At the same time, extremists also continue to recruit women to their ranks. We must acknowledge the diverse range of roles played by women.
When countering terrorism and violent extremism, it is important to have the gender perspective present. We must involve women on the ground. Female police officers are important to investigate crimes against women. We therefore strongly support the UNs new gender parity strategy for uniformed personnel. I am also proud to say that in Norway, 46 per cent of the police service are women.
But women and girls are not only victims. We have seen throughout history that women also have been perpetrators and committed terrorist acts themselves. Over the last years, we have seen women and girls being radicalised and joining terrorist organisations like ISIL. Some of the women commit horrendous crimes themselves by holding innocent women and children slaves. There is no doubt in my mind: We must bring both male and female perpetrators to justice. There can be no question of just bringing the men in front of a court of justice. We must strive to prosecute all who have committed terrorist acts.
In my view, this is best done as close to the crime scene as possible and of course in compliance with human rights law. Should Norwegian women who have joined or supported ISIL, return to Norway, we will take appropriate actions. That includes considering prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration. We have the necessary criminal laws and instruments in place to investigate their actions and if sufficient evidence can be found, prosecute them.
We must be aware of the gender dimension also in our efforts on anti-radicalisation and de-radicalisation. We have a lot of examples of girls as young as 15 years old having been radicalised or misled by older people and who then joined terrorist groups and even traveled to Syria and Iraq. We must avoid this happening again.
Another aspect of this, is that many of these women brought their children to Syria and Iraq and many have given birth to children while staying in region. Many children are orphaned after the parents have been killed. Many children live with still radicalised women in camps in Iraq. These children especially those without parents, are extremely vulnerable and it is important that they do not become the next generation of terrorists.
I’m very positive to the work of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to assist member states who request so, to mainstream gender perspectives into their criminal justice response to terrorism. This contributes to prevent the recruitment of women and girls as terrorists and promote the full protection of women and girls of any form of exploitation or violence by terrorists. The handbook «Gender Dimensions of Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism» is an important tool.