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Strange Bedfellows: Interrogating the Unintended Consequences of Integrating Countering Violent Extremism with the UN's Women, Peace, and Security Agenda in Kenya

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 July 2020

Sahla Aroussi*
Coventry University


In October 2015, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2242 calling on member states to work toward the greater integration of the women, peace, and security (WPS) agenda with efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism. While the rapprochement between counterterrorism and WPS may appear to be a step forward, particularly for those seeking to increase women's participation in areas traditionally dominated by men, it is also potentially dangerous. This article makes a significant contribution to the larger debate on the WPS agenda by studying the impact and unintended consequences of linking WPS with countering violent extremism on the ground in Kenya. Based on original research in the field, including key informant interviews, I argue that in the Kenyan context, connecting WPS with violent extremism has had several damaging consequences for women and their communities. Far from advancing the WPS agenda, this new policy shift has caused tension between local and international priorities, precipitated the redirection of donor funding away from important gender initiatives and toward countering violent extremism, and resulted in women's additional stigmatization, insecurity, and exclusion.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association

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This research was funded by a Coventry University Research Innovation Award 2017/2018. I would like to thank my research assistant Lucy Kiarie for her support in organizing and conducting the research in Kenya and all the participants who generously gave their time to take part in the research. I also would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers and the journal editors for their constructive feedback, patience, and support during the reviewing of this article.



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