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Review Article

Islamic feminism as an alternative strategy for preventing and countering violent extremism among Muslim women in Kenya

Rickline S. Ng’ayoRickline S. Ng’ayo

Rickline Ng’ayo is a PhD candidate with an interest in peace and security at the United States International University–Africa (USIU–Africa). He holds a bachelors degree in Political Science, Master of Arts in International Relations, Master of Science in Organizational Development and Master of Arts in Gender and Development Studies. Rickline is also a security analyst with an interest in counterterrorism and previously taught International Relations and Security Studies at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.

Abstract

Islamic feminism is a budding ideology in Kenya that conservative Muslims perceive as a distortion of pure Islam. Despite its prospects for empowering Muslim women, its utility for preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) is largely unexplored, and security agencies and non-governmental organisations prefer to engage with mainstream patriarchal Islamic ideologies that reinforce the gender vulnerabilities Al-Shabaab successfully exploits to engage women in violent extremism. This study draws on research conducted with Muslim clerics, scholars, women’s associations, feminists, government officials, and female returnees in Nairobi and Mombasa counties to demonstrate that Al-Shabaab is exploiting traditional gender constructions including marriage, sisterhood, motherhood and women’s religious obligations to recruit, radicalise and exploit women. While Islamic feminism exposes and contests gender inequalities, it remains unpopular, is often dismissed as secular, and meets resistance from both extremists and moderate Muslims, and therefore further studies are needed to validate its rightful role within Islam.

Keywords

Islamic feminismP/CVEAl-Shabaabgender constructionssisterhoodmother-hood
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Published on: 22 June 2023
Volume: 11
Issue: Supplementary issue 1
Article ID: 129
Pages:129 - 156
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Cite this article
Ng’ayo (2023), ' Islamic feminism as an alternative strategy for preventing and countering violent extremism among Muslim women in Kenya ', Journal of the British Academy, 11(Supplementary issue 1): 129 https://doi.org/10.5871/jba/011s1.129

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Islamic feminism as an alternative strategy for preventing and countering violent extremism among Muslim women in Kenya

Rickline S. Ng’ayoRickline S. Ng’ayo

Rickline Ng’ayo is a PhD candidate with an interest in peace and security at the United States International University–Africa (USIU–Africa). He holds a bachelors degree in Political Science, Master of Arts in International Relations, Master of Science in Organizational Development and Master of Arts in Gender and Development Studies. Rickline is also a security analyst with an interest in counterterrorism and previously taught International Relations and Security Studies at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.