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16. February 2012

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Mothers for Change! - a research project

An applied research project that aims to involve mothers in combating violent extremism by recognizing the signs of early radicalization in youth

Mothers for Change! takes an innovative, horizontal approach to studying the process of deradicalization by taking full advantage of women’s role in the family and in society. Women are strategically positioned at the center of the family, where they are the first to recognize resignation and anger in their children. They build an ideal early-warning system when their sons, daughters, or husbands travel down the wrong path. Just as terrorist organizations are able to exploit latent activist energies in youth, the project seeks to identify and unlock mothers’ directive capabilities at the heart of the family.

This research project poses two key questions: how do mothers perceive their role in the processes of both the prevention of radicalization as well as deradicalization, and what tools do they need to expand their ability to intervene if they feel their children or other family members are moving toward extremist activities? Mothers in five target areas- Israel, Palestine, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Northern Ireland—will be asked what influence they believe they wield in promoting a peaceable society. This innovative study thus gives women agency in the extremist paradigm, a sphere from which they are normally excluded or regarded as passive, external actors.

This three-year project operates on two tiers. Tier One will be devoted to on-the-ground research and analysis, to gather cutting-edge data on the self-perceived role of women in terror and ways in which to reduce the fundamentalist threat. During the Second Tier, we will use the findings to develop training programs for newly composed women’s/mothers’ groups, to empower them to identify and respond to their needs and subsequently exert greater influence within the family, within politics, and within society at large.

Mothers for Change! has several expected results: to develop a theory of factors that contribute to the radicalization of youth, to gather new data on the role of mothers in the process of de-radicalization and prevention, to help mothers to realize their potential and power within this process, to create mothers’ groups to promote de-radicalization, and to train trainers of future groups.

Stability and security are the key social and political issues or our era. Mothers are central to transmitting state-wide preventative measures to the individual level. The inclusion of women will help to create a new vision, to hear new voices, and to open new avenues of action.

The research is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): TRP112-G17

 
 

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