Following the GNRC 5th Forum held in May 2017, Building Resilience Against Violence Extremism (BRAVE) program in partnership with United Nations Development Program (UNDP) held a series of follow-up workshops in Kenya in May 2017. The purpose of the interfaith meetings was to engage women and youth on their role in countering violent extremism. A total of three hundred and twenty (320) participants from Tana River, Mandera and Wajir were reached. The regions selected for the activities are most vulnerable and exposed to radicalization and violent extremism at the same time polarized by tribal and inter-clan clashes.
Among the topics deliberated on included the roles of women and youth in countering violent extremism, understanding radicalization and violent extremism, early warning signs of radicalization and violent extremism and community resilience strategy against radicalization and violent extremism. Participants also took part in discussions, questions and answer sessions and giving experiential stories.
One of the memorable quotes during the women workshop in Mandera was, “The government has securitized the operation on the matter of radicalization leaving out the women who are directly affected by this menace. Women suffer double tragedy; their children join the extremist groups and the government treats them as perpetrators.” This is indicative of the gap in knowledge on how crucial women and girls are when it comes to combating violent extremism.
The program was highly appreciated by the participants who recommended similar activities in the region to empower the community with knowledge and skills to prevent violent extremism. It is imperative to note that initially the participants were very cautious in sharing information particularly in Mandera but as the program advanced they started opening up.