Analytical Framing of Violent Extremism and Gender in Kenya: A Review of the Literature

Gayatri Sahgal, Martine Zeuthen


Following an examination of the current gaps in the literature on the role of gender and violent extremism (VE) in Kenya, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) under the Strengthening Resilience to Violent Extremism (STRIVE) II programme, in partnership with the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA), supported the development of four academic studies exploring regional dynamics of women’s involvement in violent extremist activity. This article, which serves as an introductory note to this Special Issue, situates the four studies in the existing literature and explores their contribution to the understanding of the role and impact of women in violent extremism. In particular, the review argues that the four pieces of research contribute to an area of study that has been missing in much of the published work on women’s recruitment into VE groups in East Africa. Specifically, the review is premised on the need for examining women’s recruitment in VE through a gendered lens that interrogates the norms that construct and compel their recruitment and participation and the differential impact of VE on their lives.


Keywords: Violent Extremism, Women, Gender, Role, Recruitment

Gayatri Saghal

Research Manager, Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, E-mail:

Martine Zeuthen

Team Leader, Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies E-mail:


Full Text:



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