Assessing the Role of Women in Fighting Radicalization in Turkey

PAVE webinar | Thursday, Decembre 2, 2021
5:00 pm
6:30 pm

New session of the "Political participation in its “extreme” Middle Eastern context" webinar, organised by the FMSH and Ifpo for the PAVE project. Interventions Dr Gülriz Şen et Dr Başak Yavçan.


Women’s diverse motivations and various roles in radicalization processes started to receive greater attention in tandem with growing female recruitment to ISIS. The new research moved away from depicting women as passive victims and conceptualized their agency for and against radicalization as sympathizers, recruiters, perpetrators, and preventers of violent extremism (VE). Meanwhile the novel terminology of VE itself and studies on countering and preventing violent extremism (CVE and PVE) called for greater inclusion of civil society actors in a shift from the heavy focus of counterterrorism studies on law enforcement forces.

Our talk builds on these two trends and aims firstly to assess women’s varying roles vis-à-vis religious radicalization in Turkey and secondly to discuss the (possible) roles of women’s NGOs and humanitarian NGOs in devising effective CVE and PVE strategies. Drawing on the major findings of our project report entitled “Assessing the Role of Women in Fighting Radicalization”, we will discuss women’s exposure to radicalization in Turkey by identifying the push, pull and enabling factors and reflect on the interplay of economic/structural, ideological and psychological factors that transform women into sympathizers, recruiters and perpetrators. Reflecting on the extensive field research conducted in eight provinces of Turkey, our talk will also probe women’s roles in fighting radicalization alongside an appraisal of the awareness and the perspectives of VE among women’s and humanitarian NGOs, the tools, instruments, and resources they possess to reach out women at risk, and the availability of gender-sensitive programs to inform and assist women’s roles in CVE and PVE.

In our concluding remarks, we will underline the necessity of empowerment of women and women’s NGOs to address the push, pull and enabling factors of radicalization, state’s inclusive engagement with civil society networks via a well-structured National CVE Plan, whilst avoiding women’s instrumentalization in fighting against violent extremism and ensuring a truly gender-sensitive approach.  


Dr. Gülriz Şen is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations at TOBB University of Economics and Technology, Ankara, Turkey. She received her PhD and Bachelor’s degrees from Middle East Technical University, Department of International Relations and holds an MA on Conflict and Sustainable Peace Studies from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, where she pursued her studies as a Jean Monnet scholar. Her major academic interests comprise Middle East politics with a particular focus on international relations of the Persian Gulf and the Levant, and gender in global politics. Dr. Şen published Turkish translation of her award-winning PhD thesis from METU Press in 2016 on the theme of Iran's post-revolutionary foreign policy vis-à-vis the United States. She also authored articles, book chapters and policy briefs on Iran-US, Iran-Turkey and Iran-GCC affairs. Her recent collaborative research focuses on gendered perspectives of radicalization and violent extremism. Dr. Şen teaches courses on Global Politics, International Relations of the Middle East, Politics and Society of Modern Iran, and Gender in International Relations.

Başak Yavçan is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Migration Governance at the Hugo Observatory, University of Liège. Yavçan is also an Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations at TOBB University of Economics and Technology in Turkey, where she heads an interdisciplinary program on Migration Studies. She holds a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh, Department of Political Science, has conducted research at Michigan University’s Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research, at New York University and at the Northwestern University’s Buffett Institute for Global Affairs (Keyman Modern Turkish Studies). Yavçan's research focuses on inter-group relations and public opinion, in particular regarding refugee integration, impact of immigration attitudes on Euroscepticism, immigrant acculturation attitudes and the impact of media framing on the public opinion. Lately, she has been working on the integration of Syrian refugees in Turkey, with a particular focus on inter-group attitudes, institutional trust, Islamic radicalization, effectiveness of local and national policies and interventions on promoting cohesion. Yavçan has conducted field research in various countries as part of national and international grant schemes, using both quantitative and qualitative methods including surveys, experiments, focus groups, in-depth interviews and content analyses.

Published at 2 December 2021