Family is a conduit of culture and belief and thus can play a critical role in shaping attitudes toward non-violence, counter-terrorism and radicalization. In today’s world, parents are faced with the challenge of explaining violence, terrorism, and war to children. Although difficult, these conversations are extremely important. Parental influence is particularly important since parents get the opportunity to help their children understand the world they live in. If a parent has a strong impact on a child’s decision making, they also have a big impact in preventing radicalization and violence.
At times, family members can also be part of the problem, especially when the parent-child relationship does not exist or is difficult. In such circumstances, a credible community figure, who has the respect of the concerned individual, could provide that support and intervene accordingly.
As part of the family unit, women can make a unique and valuable contribution in countering terrorism and violent extremism. In recent years there is a rise in women as perpetrators and supporters of violent extremism. Several questions emerge when discussing the particulars of why and how women partake in both violent extremism and P/CVE efforts e.g. what are the different roles that women can undertake in a terrorist organization? Are females recruited differently compared to male counterparts? What roles do they play in inciting or persuading others to join violent extremist groups?
As the first line of defense, mothers play a vital role in the family since they would easily identify, predict and respond to children’s vulnerabilities to violence. The mothers can be used to offer meaningful counter-narratives, by highlighting the hardships that may be imposed on a recruit’s own family in case he/she joins terrorist groups. Due to this, the voice of women needs to be amplified. This should be done through empowering and educating women/ mothers since they can easily identify any changes that may lead children to commit crimes.
In addition, women can also assist security actors to make counter-terrorism programs and implementation more effective. More emphasis should be placed on strategies to counter-terrorism, and promote women’s participation and empowerment, including in policymaking and law enforcement roles. To prevent radicalization, women have to be involved as educators, influencers and positive agents of change in their families, communities and the broader society. There is an importance in engaging women beyond traditional roles and providing leadership opportunities in decision making capacities in communities, the private sector, and also in the government. This in turn gives them a sense of inclusivity and gives them opportunities in providing leadership beyond the usual traditional roles.
“When you train a woman, you train an entire community.” This reflects the level of influence that women possess in the society
In conclusion, there is a need to move beyond the traditional focus that only young men and women are radicalized and recruited to join terrorism, and embrace the act that family is a potential site of radicalization and recruitment as a whole. Let’s work together from the domestic level and engage the young children, and upcoming youth in matters and initiatives of CVE by educating them and including them in the fight against radicalization and terrorism. Every individual has a role to play.