- Publication date
- 19 July 2022
- Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs
In recent years, practitioners of our RAN Youth & Education (Y&E) Working Group observed an increase and a normalisation of misogynist narratives and behaviour amongst their male pupils, undermining the democratic rights of gender equality. This is perceived as problematic for the field of preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) because various extremist movements have sexism and gender inequality at the core of their ideology, and thus benefit from the normalisation of such discourses. Moreover, girls can also radicalise and be recruited, and resilience building programmes to meet their specific needs are still often reported to be a blind spot in preventive youth work. After all, many initiatives are aimed at boys and young men, as they cause more visible trouble when they radicalise or become vulnerable to radicalisation.
On 31 May and 1 June, the RAN Y&E Working Group assembled educators, youth workers and related experts from around Europe for a working session about this topic. The purpose of this meeting was to: 1) exchange insights on the role of misogyny within different extremist ideologies; 2) share tips on how to provide accurate programmes for girls to build resilience (against both misogynist behaviour and extremist recruitment); and 3) discuss how to facilitate dialogue for respect and understanding between boys and girls.
The following key outcomes were identified:
- Understand how extremist ideologies have specific ideas of gender roles, and get to know the popular discourses that accompany these ideas.
- Preventive interventions aimed at building resilience specifically for girls are key, but in addition interventions aimed at fostering gender equality and respecting (sexual) boundaries for boys are essential when countering and preventing these extremist gender narratives.
- Messages within recruiting narratives are tailored to very gender-specific needs, so try to meet these needs within your practice, before extremists do.
- Be aware that progressive ideas about gender are not accepted in every family or community. Youngsters might feel torn between the values of their family and the values outside home, so act carefully and try to engage together with the family or community.
- With your pupils, look critically at gender narratives that seem rather innocent at first sight but hide a darker and extremist view behind them. Make sure the youngsters recognise when they are being targeted, and pre-expose them to these narratives to protect them against a potential future threat of extremist narratives. This follows the idea of the so-called inoculation theory.
- Create understanding between the genders about their specific perspectives, experiences and challenges related to what it means to be a boy, girl, or neither of these, and how to behave with each other. There are several creative ways to facilitate such dialogue.
This paper will first address the topics raised during the setting-the-scene panel, where the connection between extremism and sexism has been explained, as well as the consequences for recruitment and efforts to counter this. Then, we elaborate on the different challenges and recommendations for teachers and youth workers defined during this meeting.