Remarks at a UN Arria-Formula Meeting on Gender-Responsive Approaches to Counter-Terrorism

Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
June 26, 2023


The United States thanks UN Women, CTED, the IIJ, and Women in International Security Horn of Africa for your efforts to implement the Global Counterterrorism Strategy and UN Security Council resolutions that call for gender to be integrated as a cross-cutting issue in efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism.

As we all know, women and girls, in all their diversity, experience insecurity and conflict in unique ways and make equally unique contributions to addressing their drivers. Applying a gender lens is essential. Women and girls are often on the frontlines

mediating peace, delivering aid, and supporting communities, yet they are simultaneously confronted with heightened risks of violence, particularly gender-based violence, online and offline.

Women and girls are consistently underrepresented in decision-making aimed at preventing conflict, building peace and security, and countering terrorism. Violent extremists are increasingly and deliberately engaging in online harassment, violence, and abuse, which can precede and carry over into physical settings and can follow women into their homes and communities – to silence leaders and suppress democratic movements.

By collaborating with women civil society leaders and other partners, including addressing the online environment, we seek to overcome this gap to empower women’s full potential in shaping their communities’ futures.

Omitting women from terrorism prevention efforts forfeits their potential contributions as mitigators of violent extremism.

Similarly, it is vital to understand how gender dynamics affect and are affected by counterterrorism efforts, particularly when violent extremist groups use gender-based violence as a tool for recruitment and a tactic to terrorize local communities. Incorporating women fully and at all levels of prevention and response, while also recognizing their complex and varied roles in society and in relation to violent extremism, leads to more effective and sustainable counter terrorism efforts.

Safeguarding human rights enables women and girls’ full, equal, and meaningful participation across society and enhances the broader conditions for successful efforts to prevent terrorism and violent extremism. It is critical that we address the needs of women and girls affected by terrorism; advance gender-responsive approaches and women’s participation within security processes; and promote justice, human rights, and the rule of law.

The United States will continue to work with civil society, the UN, and Member States – including through efforts such as the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse and the Christchurch Call to Action – to counter terrorism and violent extremism, and prevent and address gender-based violence, in a manner that respects human rights and integrates gender equality as a cross-cutting issue.