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12. December 2013

Can Mothers Stop Terrorism?-

-Voices from the First Line of Defense


10. December 2013

Ringturm (Schottenring 30, 1010 Wien


In celebration of its 10th anniversary, Women without Borders / SAVE held an international expert meeting and panel presentation on the incredible untapped potential of mothers to protect their families and communities against violent extremism.


Security is one of the last bastions of male dominance with its focus on intelligence, military operations and law enforcement. Yet women and especially mothers are strategically placed at the core of their families and are typically the first to deal with their children's fear, resignation, frustration and anger that can lead to radicalization.


SAVE’s focuses on mothers as part of a serious counter-terrorism strategy. Mobilizing mothers is a new way forward, introducing concepts of grassroots security. They need to be a recognized ally for security in the home and beyond.


The final panel presentation was held in the Ringturm in Vienna, opened by Frau Dr Zarfe, representing the Austrian Ministers Mr Hundstorfer and Ms Heinisch-Hosek. Mr Thomas Wuchte, Head on Antiterrorism Issues at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe presented his remarks on the ongoing cooperation between the OSCE and WwB/SAVE, and highlighted SAVE’s spearheading efforts to take a gender perspective in counter terrorism..


The film your ‘Your Mother’ was screened and many members of the audience found it very poignant. Following the film screening, Edit Schlaffer interviewed Max Boon from Indonesia, Khadija Mubarak and Anna Darbo from Zanzibar, Ester Ibanga and Khadijah Hwaja Gambo from Nigeria, Shazia Khan from Pakistan and Archana Kapoor from India. In this talk-show style of presentation, the panel speakers described their personal journeys from outrage to activism.


For example, Anna, who co-founded the Zanzibar Chapter of SAVE, noticed that a family member was attempting to recruit her own son into radical Islamist circles. Despite resistance and mixed feelings of failure and shame, Anna was determined to protect her son, who was feeling under pressure from these external influences.  There was also Archana Kapoor, who reaches thousands of disenfranchised women with community radio, democratizing information and giving women the confidence to speak up and safeguard their children.


With standing room only, the warm-spirited event gave an opportunity to the public and professionals alike to hear the amazing, inspirational testimonies of our partner activists. Their stories clearly demonstrate that there is a very real role and benefit from non-state actors in prevention and counter violent extremism.


The event closed with an opportunity for networking, press conversations and a buffet overlooking the City of Vienna in winter decorations.The individual panel participants were inundated by members of the audience, including those active in civil society organizations themselves, as well as Austrian and international journalists based in Vienna.


Our international guests left a strong impression that mothers can and should be the first line of defense against the ideologies of violent extremism.


See the SAVE film Mothers as the Frist Line of Defense here. Both long and short versions of the film can now be viewed online.


 
 

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