Women Key to Combating Extremism in Pakistan

   •    November 9, 2012

Girls at a makeshift outdoor school

A woman leads a class in a makeshift girls school in Mingora, Swat. In areas hard-hit by extremist violence, women are on the front lines of reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts, helping their communities recover from disaster and rebuild their lives. (Sara Farid)

As a researcher at Inclusive Security, I’ve had the privilege of traveling to Pakistan four times since 2011 to support Amn-o-Nisa, a coalition of Pakistani women leaders who are mobilizing against extremism.

During my time in-country over the past two years, I sat down with many of these courageous women who shared their personal, and, at times, heart-wrenching stories. Their experiences illustrate just how much extremism has devastated their communities and their country—a viewpoint rarely portrayed in US media.

While these interactions opened my eyes to the destruction being inflicted by extremists on everyday Pakistanis, it became glaringly obvious that Pakistani women are not solely victims of their increasingly violent intolerance. They are creative, courageous leaders who are striving to alter their country’s dangerous trajectory and rebuild lives shattered in extremism’s wake.

Unfortunately, policymakers have yet to fully realize or capitalize on the knowledge, experience, and collective power of Pakistani women peacebuilders.

At Inclusive Security, we published three papers to shed light on the impact of extremist violence in Pakistan—particularly on women. More important, however, they demonstrate the unique strategies women are employing to curb radicalization, respond to crises, and rebuild communities. The publications also provide policymakers with strategic solutions for how to better address extremism and promote peace.

More about the publications:

Sarah Chatellier is a program associate and researcher at The Institute for Inclusive Security. She helps coordinate Amn-o-Nisa, a coalition of women leaders working to moderate extremism in Pakistan.

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