On February 27, 2018, Jamille Bigio testified before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, discussing the importance of women’s inclusion in the prevention and mitigation of radicalization and terrorism. Bigio described how women and girls are frequently the first targets of extremist groups because such groups benefit strategically and financially from the subjugation of women. She argued that “women's central roles in many families and communities afford them a unique vantage point from which to recognize unusual patterns of behavior and signs of impending conflict,” but that “despite this, traditional efforts by governments and nongovernmental organizations to combat radicalization rarely include women.”
To strengthen counterterrorism efforts, Bigio provided the following recommendations for the U.S. government:
- The forthcoming U.S. national strategy for countering violent extremist groups should include attention to and investment in women’s roles;
- Increase resources to facilitate women’s involvement in efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism, in order to maximize the return on defense investments;
- Address the specific needs and experiences of women, whether as victims, mitigators, or perpetrators;
- In light of evidence that terrorist and violent extremist groups are including women and exploiting their absence in security sectors, U.S. security cooperation efforts should provide technical assistance to increase the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in security sectors.