Women can help safeguard their communities and become a much needed voice in helping to work towards peace and in challenging the extremist threat. This training programme strove to make women realise their own agency and responsibility in countering extremism.
The course therefore aimed to:
1. Challenge extremist ideology and support mainstream voices by providing women with the necessary skills to address issues within their communities with confidence.
2. Build community resilience by enabling women to be more proactive members within community structures such as mosques, cultural centres and educational centres.
3. Support vulnerable individuals by educating women who have an important relationship with the individual concerned e.g. mother/sister
The course analysed the religious, political and ideological outlook of terrorist organisations from 7th century Khawarij, 11th-13th century Ismaili Assassins, upto modern day al-Qaida. The extremist narrative espoused by Bin Laden, al-Awlaki and others were dissected. The threat of the jihadist movement was examined and the possible vulnerabilities leading to radicalisation were discussed. The arguments used by Al Qaida such as militant jihad being compulsory on all Muslims and the world being divided either as dar al Islam/dar al harb (world of Islam/world of unbelief) was scrutinised. Discussions around citizenship, anti-Muslim prejudice, the impact of far right extremism, the wider notion of ummah and gender equality in Islam also took place.
Outcomes of the Women’s Safeguarding Awareness Programme:
1. Participants understanding of extremism increased substantially. The average increase for each participant on a scale of 0-10 went from 5.4 to 9.1.
2. As a result of the course, participants had a greater concern in tackling extremism. The average increase for each participant on a scale of 0-10 went 8.6 to 9.7.
3. The creation of a newly elected Wandsworth Muslim Women’s Network which will seek to empower women and challenge extremism was also established.