Women & Extremism

ISD examines the gender component of disinformation, and the role of women within and against extremist movements.

In the last decade, ISD has pioneered new research and initiatives to address the presence of women within violent extremist organisations and develop new ways for women to counter extremism around the world.

Women play an important role in both online and offline radicalisation and recruitment to extremist groups. However, women can also act as early warning systems and influential counter-agents in the fight against these movements. ISD’s work has looked at all dimensions of the gender dynamics of these issues.

Gender-focused research and commentary
ISD has conducted a range of research the addresses issues of extremism, hate and disinformation through a gender lens. This has included everything from research into the gender dynamics of Islamist extremism (Becoming Mulan and Till Martyrdom Do Us Part, Women, Girls and Islamist Extremism) to analysis of the misogynistic aspects of hatred targeting female political candidates (Public Figures, Public Rage).

Our team regularly speak in the media on the role of women in these issues, including on why more women are turning to the far-right (as featured in this Radio 4 documentary with Julia Ebner and a film for The Telegraph, “Rise of the women haters: Inside the dark world of the British ‘incels’“). We also regularly publish on our blog on the gender dimensions of disinformation, such as this Digital Dispatches post, “Online Abuse and Disinformation are Obstacles to Gender Equality in a post-COVID World.”

Women & Extremism Toolkit
The return of women and girls from former ISIS held territories presents new and difficult challenges for governments, communities and frontline practitioners. The importance of disengagement and deradicalisation work with this cohort of women cannot be underestimated. ISD’s Women, Girls and Islamist Extremism Toolkit provides evidence-based guidance for policymakers and practitioners, drawn from the expertise of intervention providers and practitioners in the UK and the Netherlands who have worked with over 250 females who were affiliated with Islamist extremism.

The toolkit is designed to highlight effective practices and processes for intervention provision with women and girls, as well as to lay out existing policy frameworks and practical tools available for those involved in these cases. The toolkit’s insights and recommendations are primarily designed to support individuals directly involved in the provision of tertiary interventions with women and girls, but also to provide guidance for practitioners and broader community stakeholders involved in safeguarding at-risk women and girls in the Netherlands and the UK.

The Women and Extremism Network (WaE)
The Women and Extremism Network (WaE), founded at the inaugural Women and Extremism Summit in Washington, DC, in 2015, brings together policymakers, academics and activists to increase female-led counter-narrative work and seed grassroots counter-extremism networks. This approach allows for greater understanding of how women are radicalised and facilitates an active network of women to better counter this trend.

Women and Extremism summit

The inaugural Women and Extremism Summit
Washington, DC, 2015.

Latest Women and Extremism Publications


Click here for more related ISD Publications

ISD’s Women and Extremism team

Jacob Davey
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Jacob Davey

Director of Research & Policy, Far-right and Hate Movements

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Jacob Davey
Jacob Davey

Director of Research & Policy, Far-right and Hate Movements

Jacob Davey is the Director of Research & Policy for Far-right and Hate Movements at ISD. Jacob has managed projects focusing on online hate speech, the international far-right and political violence. He has led a number of projects piloting novel models for identifying extremist conversation and hate speech online, including analysis tracking hate groups in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, and is currently leading a major programme of work mitigating hate threats in the US. He has advised national and local policymakers on right-wing extremism, including the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. Jacob has managed and co-authored numerous ISD reports including Between Conspiracy and Extremism: A Long COVID Threat?, ISD’s Gaming and Extremism Series, and A Safe Space to Hate: White Supremacist Mobilisation on Telegram.
Charlotte Moeyens
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Charlotte Moeyens

Senior Manager, Networks & Civic Action

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Charlotte Moeyens
Charlotte Moeyens

Senior Manager, Networks & Civic Action

Charlotte Moeyens is a Senior Manager, Networks & Civic Action, at ISD, sitting in the central Resources and Methods team to support with the collation and distribution of counter-extremism best practice, overseeing the development and international delivery of training modules, materials and resources for practitioners and civil society. She has supported the delivery of the Google.org Impact Challenge on Safety in Europe, Africa Online Safety Fund and Mayor of London’s Shared Endeavour Fund. Most recently, she is working with the McCain Institute to develop and build the capacity of a US Prevention and Intervention Practitioners Network. Charlotte also forms part of the Strong Cities Network's (SCN) Central Management Unit, and is co-author of the SCN's Multi-Agency Models for Preventing Violent Extremism: A Guidebook for Bangladesh, as well as ISD reports YouthCAN: The Many States of Activism and Women, Girls and Islamist Extremism.
Cécile Simmons
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Cécile Simmons

Research Manager

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Cécile Simmons
Cécile Simmons

Research Manager

Cécile Simmons is a Research Manager at ISD, specialising in malign influence operations targeting elections, public health and climate disinformation, far-right extremism and conspiracy theories. Her research includes social media network mapping, data analysis and ethnographic monitoring of closed online spaces. Her writing and commentary has been featured by the BBC, The Guardian, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Wired, among others. She previously worked in publishing and journalism, and holds an MSc in International History from the London School of Economics.