Understanding the role of Gender Relations in Radicalising and Recruiting Young Muslim Women in Higher Learning Institutions in Kenya


  • Fatuma A. Ali United States International University-Africa


The radicalisation and recruitment of young educated Muslim women is a sensitive and global phenomenon, which is also a major social and security concern within learning institutions. Young Muslims women in higher learning institutions in Kenya have become easy targets for recruitment by violent extremist organisations such as Al-Shabaab and the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria. This is because learning institutions have been identified by these extremist groups as sites of recruitment due to their transitionary, permissive, biographical, secular and socialization space. The presence of radicalised young educated Muslim women is a proof that there is a shifting profile of extremists from focusing on the illiterate to the literate and from male to female recruits. The purpose of this article is to explain why young women at learning institutions are targeted for recruitment by violent extremist groups. It argues that young Muslim women are vulnerable to radicalization and recruitment in higher learning institutions because the recruiters take advantage of their lower level of religious literacy and use patriarchal constructs in their recruitment narrative by manipulating marriage as a Utopian promise to lure young women.


Keywords: Violent extremism, Gender, Kenya, Higher learning institutions, Recruitment


Fatuma A. Ali

Associate Professor, United States International University-Africa, E-mail: fmali@usiu.ac.ke    


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