The Demasculinization of Central European Security: How Women’s Empowerment Enhances Civil Society’s Capacity to Prevent and Counter Violent Extremism

Skylar Silvera, Global Studies College, Long Island University, 1 University Plaza 11201

A growing body of research suggests that common prevention and counter violent extremism (P/CVE) initiatives routinely overlook a critical strategy that could reduce violence and advance stability in societies: women’s perspectives. COVID-19 has exacerbated polarization in Central Europe, fueling both Islamic and Right-wing violent extremist behavior. To explore how women’s empowerment affects civil society’s capability in countering violent extremism in Central Europe, this research partnered with the Austrian civil society organization Women without Borders (WwB) through a 3-month virtual internship. WwB MotherSchools program’s gender-sensitive approach uses women’s relational capacities as instigators of peace to enhance women’s agency and P/CVE efforts in Austria. This study analyzes Islamic and Right-wing extremist threats in Austria, Germany, and the Visegrad countries (Poland, Hungary, Czechia, and Slovakia) and these nations’ regard for civil society collaboration in P/CVE efforts. Qualitative data was collected through interviews conducted with Central European security, extremism, and gender scholars/activists, EU and UN-facilitated peace and security webinars, and dominant literature on the role of gender in peace and security practices. This data was analyzed in field notes using a transnational feminist methodology, which holds accountable patriarchal influences of dominant European security responses to extremism. This qualitative study finds that Central European nations utilize varying degrees of masculine-influenced hard security responses to violent extremism. Findings indicate that the empowerment of women to join civil society P/CVE efforts helps demasculinize state-sponsored P/CVE efforts, which helps end cycles of violence in society. The research also finds that WwB’s proclaimed universal model to P/CVE must be reworked to effectively respond to the rising threat of Right-wing extremism in Central Europe. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Skylar Silvera

Institution: Long Island University

Type: Oral

Subject: Interdisciplinary Studies

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Oral 8
Date/Time: Tue 5:00pm-6:00pm
Session Number: 833
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