Mali: Meaningful Investment in Girls' Education Key to Resisting Violent Extremism Recruitment in Mali and Niger


Focus on girls' schooling from an early age is essential for building their resilience and financial independence.

Research has shown why women join violent extremist groups in Africa, but much less attention is given to those who leave or don't enlist at all. What makes some women resist recruitment? And why do those who join sometimes disengage?

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has recently explored the circumstances that allowed women to reject or cut ties with Boko Haram in Niger's Diffa region and Katiba Macina in Mali's Mopti and Ségou regions. Understanding these factors is key to women's safety. It will prevent their association with armed groups and reduce their exposure to extremist violence.

In Mali and Niger, women have mostly escaped recruitment by fleeing areas where the groups are active. Some end up in camps for internally displaced persons, while others take refuge with relatives who live far away or send their children to family members in safer parts of the country. Women interviewed in Niger took refuge there after escaping areas occupied or under attack by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Those who didn't flee avoided places where the groups were active, and refrained from publicly criticising them....

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