8. Concluding Observations The report shows that women and girls are associated with violent extremism in complex and diverse ways. For disengagement, rehabilitation and reintegration programmes to be effective, the counterterrorism and PVE community across sectors and countries, must recognize their existence and adapt existing policies and practices to be gender-responsive for both men and women. There is much nuance and some confusion around the status of these returnees, particularly as many are both victims and perpetrators. Moreover, the overall rate of documented return of women is significantly lower than men, making research on the topic more difficult. Additionally, while there is growing attention to the challenge of foreign terrorist fighters and their families, less is known about those affiliated individuals who remain in their home country or returned unnoticed. Here again, women and girls are of particular note, as in many contexts they are active in domestic settings or through family ties, and thus unnoticed. The fear, anger and mistrust in communities towards those affiliated with VE groups cannot be underestimated. Similarly, to avoid a backlash or inadvertent harm, it is essential that victims of violent extremism, especially women and their children, are not excluded from reintegration and rehabilitation support programmes. There is a need for clear policies on community and public engagement and transparency. As such media engagement is crucial. In many contexts the socioeconomic infrastructure, governance and local community security provisions needed for prevention are also necessary for effective rehabilitation and reintegration. Much of it is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, there is a critical urgency now. If reintegration efforts are not inclusive and holistic, the risk of a resurgence of violent extremism and its impact on development and peace in already fragile contexts cannot be underestimated. While the challenges are profound, the existence of local civil society entities active and willing to support reintegration in communities across affected countries cannot be underestimated. They are key assets and must be recognized and supported as allies in the quest for positive peace and social cohesion.
PART I: SECTOR-SPECIFIC ANALYSIS
Gendered Dimensions of Return, Rehabilitation and Reintegration from Violent Extremism