Gender equality and violent extremism in North Africa: UN funding for a new research agenda at GPS

Gender equality and violent extremism in North Africa: UN funding for a new research agenda at GPS

Monash Gender, Peace and Security (GPS) Centre has won a competitive UN bid worth approximately AUD $1 million to establish a new research agenda in five North African countries (Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria) on the gendered dynamics of violent extremism (VE) in North Africa including gender analysis of extremist recruitment and mobilization, impacts of violent extremism and terrorism, and efforts to prevent and counter their threat in the region. The GPS project team consists of Professor Jacqui True, Dr Eleanor Gordon, Associate-Professor Kerry O'Brien and Associate Professor Kate Lee-Koo, with research assistance from Aydon Edwards and Yasmin Chilmeran GPS doctoral students.

With funding from UN Women-Cairo and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Monash GPS will partner with Eirene Associates (Morocco) to build the research capacity of national research institutes and organisations in each of the 5 countries in North Africa. The 18 month project will create an evidence base to inform effective, gender-sensitive preventing and countering violent extremism policy and programming. 

As the foremost global gender, peace and security centre, Monash GPS will take the lead and partner with Eirene to mutually deliver the research project. The regional partner will conduct research on the ground in the five countries and coordinate with national partners and institutions. This is GPS's third project for governments and the UN researching gender dynamics of VE toward the development of gender-based approaches to preventing and countering VE.

Based in the capital city of Rabat, Eirene is the first international development company in Morocco working on peace, stabilization, civilian security, good governance and international development at national, regional and international levels. They are used to operating in complex environments in countries across the Sahel, the Maghreb, the Middle East, and Asia and have an extensive network of government and non-government partners across the region. The partnership with Monash GPS will capitalise on this network in the research project, and support research capacity-building in communities and countries in promoting peace, security, good governance and development.

Zineb Benalla, Eirene’s founder, is an international expert on P/CVE and peacebuilding and has spent many years working in VE hotspots in the Maghreb, Sahel, and the Middle East. She has a highly successful career in promoting peace, freedom and inclusion. She previously co-founded the Non-Profit Think Tank, Transnational Initiative Countering Violent Extremism (TICVE) in Morocco to counter violent extremism and help build peace in the Maghreb and Sahel region. With the help of her civil society partners she also co-founded the peace-building network to bring together civil society organizations working in different fields to promote sustainable peace.

Professor Jacqui True is excited about the possibilities for the project. She said,  “This is the first research ever on the gender dynamics (recruitment, mobilisation, return) and impacts of violent extremism in communities in the North Africa region – where obviously violent extremism is a highly significant everyday security issue for women and men.”

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