Philosophizing Alternative Pan-African Media and Society Approaches to Countering Female Violent Extremism in Kenya for Peace and Security
The Wilson Center
abstract
While women are increasingly playing key roles in terrorist and violent extremist groups in some parts of Africa, little research has been done to highlight the link between women and terrorism. This is true of Kenya, where research has been lacking despite increasing concerns about attacks involving women. For example, a review of two mainstream Kenyan newspapers, The Daily Nation and The Standard, highlights several incidents of female involvement in extremism in the country between 2011 and 2016.

It is suspected that women are actively playing a role behind the scenes in support of terror activities in Kenya. It appears that most of the women are indirectly involved in terrorism, mainly through their relationships with extremists. The most prominent examples of this are at least nine reported cases of “jihadi brides” or “alShabaab brides.” These are women who are typically radicalized through marriage. There is also at least one recent instance of women fighting on the frontline, the case of three women who attacked a police station in Mombasa on September 11, 2016. The potential threat posed by female violent extremism is very real: AlShabaab has already wreaked havoc in Kenya, claiming responsibility for many large-scale attacks over the last few years. This suggests attacks could worsen if female radicalization becomes widespread, as women can “fly under the radar of gender-blind security forces.”