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associated with armed groups in conflict settings offers useful guidance (see Note on Terminology) but is not fully applicable to characteristics of violent extremism.45 Furthermore, these concepts do not encompass the full range of dynamics and categories of returnees revealed with the application of a gender lens. As international policymakers work to reconceptualize DDR for this age of extremism and align it with applicable policy developments (See Annex 1: Policy Mapping), the terms used in this report that reflect the knowledge and experiences of practitioners working directly with returnees, their families, and communities are:

■■ Disengagement:

The process of leaving a violent extremist group—physically and psychologically. Deradicalization is the cognitive part of the process rejecting the ideology of the violent extremist group.

■■ Rehabilitation: The process of positive transformation and healing from association with violent extremism.

■■ Reintegration: society.

The process of returnees re-entering and rebuilding their lives in

These definitions are also consistent with relevant academic literature that reinforces the reality that these processes are neither linear nor unidirectional, particularly given the experiences of front-line civil society responders.46 Their experiences are often obscured by a focus on state-led and official processes conducted in prisons, detention centres and other official residential facilities.

Why the need for gender analysis?47 Recruitment on the basis of core identities, notably faith and ethnicity, is a shared central feature of contemporary violent extremist groups.48 Similarly gender identity is also of critical importance. Many of the men who join are searching for a sense of belonging and purpose, for affirmation of their masculinity. They are attracted by the masculine supremacy that characterizes such groups and justifies their subjugation of women as sex slaves or “jihadi brides.”49 It also taps into their need to be “protectors” of their faith and families. For example, groups that claim to represent Islam often promise that their participation and martyrdom secures their families’ place in heaven.50 To enable effective deradicalization, we must understand and address men’s roles, motivations and drivers. Similarly, we must understand women’s different experiences. Women within VE groups may have multiple and overlapping roles including as perpetrators, enablers of violence or as ideological and economic supporters, enforcers and recruiters. But many may also be victims or bystanders implicated by virtue of their familial ties to members of the groups. Among those who joined voluntarily or were abducted, some travelled to foreign countries, while others are affiliated with domestic groups. The terminology currently used fails to address the nuances and diversity of women’s and girls’ associations with VE groups (see box on “A Gendered Language Gap”). See also Cockayne, J. & O’Neil, S.(2015); UN-DDR in an era of violent extremism. Is it fit for purpose?, United Nations University. See for example: Ryan Shaffer, Tore Bjørgo and John Horgan (Eds.) (2014), Leaving Terrorism Behind: Individual and Collective Disengagement, Terrorism and Political Violence, 26:5, 857-859. 47 Gender analysis examines the relationships between females and males. It examines their roles, their access to and control of resources and the constraints they face relative to each other. A gender analysis should be integrated into the humanitarian needs assessment and in all sector assessments or situational analyses. (IASC Gender Handbook in Humanitarian Action 2006) 48 See Sanam Naraghi Anderlini (2018), ‘Challenging Conventional Wisdom, Transforming Current Practices: A Gendered Lens on PVE’, Berghof Foundation, (available at violentextremism_naraghi_anderlini_com.pdf). 49 ICSR (2015), ‘Till Martyrdom Do Us Part’ Gender and the ISIS Phenomenon (available at: Till_Martyrdom_Do_Us_Part_Gender_and_the_ISIS_Phenomenon.pdf).) 50 Nasra Hassan (2001), An Arsenal of Believers (available at: 45 46



Profile for Reagan Smith

Invisible Women  

Gendered Dimensions of Return, Rehabilitation and Reintegration from Violent Extremism

Invisible Women  

Gendered Dimensions of Return, Rehabilitation and Reintegration from Violent Extremism