Statement by Ambassador Flynn at Arria Meeting on Preventing Terrorism and Violent Extremism
Statement28 July 2021
Thank you Chair, and I thank Mexico for their initiative in bringing this important topic to the Council’s attention. We also thank the briefers for their informative presentations.
A nuanced and comprehensive gender perspective of counter-terrorism considers the multiple roles of women, men and people of diverse gender identities, as well as the impact of structural gender inequality.
Too often within the counter-terrorism context, gender remains a short-form for women.
For counter-terrorism responses to be effective, we should avoid a one-dimensional conception of gender and advance a more holistic understanding, including through the consideration of hegemonic masculinities.
Terrorist groups of different ideological backgrounds use misogynistic rhetoric and notions of hegemonic masculinity to appeal to potential recruits, often with a focus on the subjugation of women and girls, and primacy of the patriarchal family structure.
In particular, the Secretary General has reported that many terrorist groups, including ISIL and Boko Haram, use the promise of marriage and access to sex to recruit men and boys, whilst also engaging in trafficking and other practices that promote and reinforce violent masculinities.
We have seen such groups undermine gains made in achieving gender equality, including through the abduction of girls in school and targeting maternity hospitals and sexual health clinics.
Additionally, terrorist and extremist propaganda elevates physical strength and aggressiveness, portraying terrorists as “warriors” and “defenders” - often of women - from the ideological “other”. These narratives are designed to appeal to young men experiencing disenfranchisement and emasculation. Education to counteract this recruitment propaganda is central to a gender-sensitive counter-terrorism response.
We must move beyond binary gender stereotypes, which view men as perpetrators of terrorism and women as victims. Failure to recognise that women can also support, facilitate, and perpetrate terrorism undermines any gender-responsive approach to prevention.
Likewise, as we have already heard today, biased presumptions of men and boys in conflict zones as combatants or otherwise "dangerous”, undermines their human rights and disregards the many roles men play in effective prevention efforts. It can also lead to a lack of understanding about men, including gay, bisexual and transgender men, as victims of terrorism.
This Council recognises that acts of sexual and gender-based violence are part of the strategic objectives and ideology of certain terrorist groups.
Though such violence disproportionately affects women and girls, we must also consider the gender-specific experiences and needs of male victims of sexual violence in this context.
For example, security actors have used gender-specific forms of violence in the name of counter-terrorism, including sexual violence designed to emasculate and humiliate male detainees.
Finally Chair, male perspectives shape counter-terrorism responses, with men often dominating decision-making on counter-terrorism policies. The negative impacts of existing counter-terrorism policies on women and girls underline the need for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in counter-terrorism processes.
Allow me to conclude Chair by reiterating Ireland’s willingness to work with you and other Council members in furthering and promoting understanding of this important topic.