Past eventMembers

The Growth in Female Extremism: A Consequence of the Caliphate?

8 May 2017 - 6:00pm to 7:15pm

Chatham House, London


Elizabeth Pearson, Associate Fellow, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)
Charlie Winter, Senior Research Fellow, International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR)
Nikita Malik, Senior Researcher, Quilliam Foundation
Dr Emman El-Badawy, Doctoral Researcher, University of Exeter
Chair: Dr Katherine Brown, Lecturer in Islamic Studies, University of Birmingham



The announcement of a caliphate in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014 has seen foreign fighters travel in unprecedented numbers to the region. There is a pervasive notion that extremism and radicalization is largely a masculine issue but recent reports indicate that 17% of people travelling to fight and live in the caliphate are women. Additionally, the well reported journeys of these muhajirat (female migrants), such as the ‘Bethnal Green Girls’ and the Halane twins, highlight the growing numbers of radicalized women within Britain itself.

The panel will discuss the rise of female involvement in extremism and, in particular, their crucial role in online recruitment of both men and women through evolving social media channels. What causal mechanisms are in play? How does female extremism differ from its male counterpart? And crucially, what counter-narratives can be offered to stem this growth?