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Gender and Violent Extremism: Examining the Psychology of Women Participating in Non-State Armed Groups Open Access

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There is a presumption that women do not use violence as a means of exercising their political will, because most traditional notions of femininity emphasize motherhood, peacefulness, and stability. Like the repressive power relations between men and women in Islamic State society, the norms that dominated Western culture throughout the early 20th century mirror those affecting women under the IS regime in many ways. In Northern Ireland, these norms shaped women's identities prior to, during, and after the conflict; analysis of female fighters in Northern Ireland provides a parallel context for understanding women participating in other violent non-state armed groups like IS. This paper seeks to understand which factors make women vulnerable or averse to radicalization, and asks: do these factors differ from those that drive men into violent extremist groups? Understanding similarities and differences between men and women with regard to radicalization will enable policymakers to develop policies that effectively prevent and disrupt violent extremism.

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