Fempower is Quilliam’s outreach programme on gender extremism. Its purpose is to challenge extremist paradigms that see women as inferior to men and to empower women to stand up for their rights. The campaign uses workshops and training to engage women in counter-extremism programmes. It addresses women’s grievances through community engagement, clear communication of policy, and better reporting structures for anti-Muslim hatred and gender extremism. Furthermore, it equips women, especially mothers, with tools to challenge extremist narratives.
Fempower facilitates and encourages girls and women of different faiths and political views, who otherwise would not come together to discuss their views and grievances, to thrive in an environment which encourages understanding through community discussion. These discussions and workshops focus on a host of gender-related issues and problems, of which domestic violence and extremism may be a part.
The Fempower team have undertaken training from Imkaan and Rights of Women on how to support female survivors of gender-based violence, which has enabled them to incorporate these issues into the project.
In early 2016 Fempower held a successful workshop for women at the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association in Lewisham. The session covered the relationship between identity and extremism, as well as forms of gender extremism, such as forced marriage and honour-based violence. The workshop was a great success, with 100% of participants responding that they learnt something new about radicalisation and extremism, and felt that the Fempower workshop motivated them to spread what they had learned to others.
Fempower’s second event was hosted by the Rt.Hon Hazel Blears at the Women’s University Club in Mayfair, focusing on the importance of women and young people in countering violent extremism, at both the policy and the grassroots levels.
Following on from the success of the previous outreach work, Fempower will be hosting more workshops for women, and in particular mothers and daughters, in the near future. Fempower will also be hosting a monthly interfaith book club for young girls of different political and religious backgrounds to come together in a safe space, and discuss the societal pressures and extremist ideologies they may tackle on a regular basis.