Norway puts gender on the counter-terrorism agenda in the Security Committee

Ambassador Steffen Kongstad chairing the Security Committee meeting on 19 June 2017
Ambassador Steffen Kongstad chairing the Security Committee Meeting on 19 June 2017

On 19 June, Norway chaired a Security Committee meeting on the topic “The gender perspective on Violent Extremism and Radicalisation that lead to Terrorism”. The aim of the meeting was to stress the importance of including a gender perspective in all efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism and radicalisation, as well as discussing how we can strengthen the OSCE’s work on this issue.

Ambassador Steffen Kongstad opened the meeting by emphasising that including a gender perspective makes our efforts to prevent and combat violent extremism and radicalisation more effective. It also gives us a better understanding of the drivers behind radicalisation and how this phenomenon affects women and men differently, and it enables tolerance and non-discrimination, equality and women’s human rights.

The panel included several speakers with broad experience from, and expertise knowledge of, the issue at stake. Sanam Anderlini, Executive Director of International Society Action Network (ICAN), stressed how extremists today actively uses gender in their recruitment efforts, for instance by exploiting the societal challenges that women face and consequently targeting them with messages of empowerment, promises of economic equality, etc. Anderlini further emphasised that we must enable the work that women do on the ground to prevent and counter such radicalisation. In this regard, a robust and independent civil society is essential.

Ambassador Jonathan Moore, Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, emphasised the essential role that women play in the field of counter-terrorism. He provided some insights into how the OSCE mission in BiH works to address the gender perspective in this field, including cooperation with state mechanisms. Furthermore, Flora Macula, Head of UN Women in Kosovo drew upon the experiences of her organisation. In particular, she presented findings from new gender-sensitive research on the drivers of radicalisation in the region, and recommended doing more gender-focused research on the issue in order to develop effective policies and other initiatives.

Counter-terrorism officer Camilla Bognø from the Transnational Threat Department in the OSCE explained how the OSCE actively addresses the gender perspective in their efforts on preventing and combating terrorism. In particular, she emphasised the need to include women actively in all aspects of the security sector to ensure diversity. This is the only way that the security sector can meet the needs of the entire population, and consequently address the issue of extremism and radicalisation in a satisfactory manner.

Norway: a key issue

Promoting a gender sensitive approach to the efforts on preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalisation that leads to terrorism is a crucial issue for Norway as chair of the Security Committee. The inclusion of a gender perspective in all activities is an essential component of a comprehensive, community-based and inclusive approach to this challenge. Therefore, Norway will continue to work to strengthen the OSCE’s efforts on this issue. Important global initiatives supported by Norway in this field include Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership, the Global Solutions Exchange, YouthCAN and the Strong Cities Network. We strongly support the OSCE’s efforts under the #UnitedCVE umbrella, including the project Leaders Against Intolerance and Violent Extremism.