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June Newsletter: Promoting Peace at the Grassroots

Promoting peace at the grassroots is where it’s at. The renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead got to the heart of the matter when she stated, Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” GC360 concurs wholeheartedly.

To celebrate the impending summer, GC360 focuses on the positive by sharing the stories of remarkable women who know what it means to bring about peace, even when the odds are stacked against them. Read about women in Pakistan who are at the forefront of moderating extremism; Somali women exiles in Kenya who managed to break the cycle of perpetual conflict and criminality in their state; and the role of women peace builders who created the space for settlement through dialogue (rather than fighting) in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. It’s true. Small groups of thoughtful committed citizens can and do change the world.


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Kurdistan’s Female Fighters

Jenna Krajeski’s article about Kurdistan’s female fighters presents a mini-history about the Kurdish women’s movement, with the starting point being women’s integral involvement in the Kurdish movement. “They fight and they protest, they vote and they get elected to office.” While discussing Kurdish women’s lives as combatants, the author gives equal time to organizations focusing on the women, noting their importance to women overall.  With all of the hubbub about female fighters of late, it’s refreshing to read an article that gives credit to women who heed the call to bear arms, but also recognizes issues of greater import. The Kurdish women’s movement  is “no longer simply hitchhiking alongside a greater Kurdish movement; … [but] is its own issue.” Read full article.

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A Decade Lost: Locating Gender in U.S. Counter-Terrorism

In this report, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) delves into the gender dimensions and impacts of the USG’s counter-terrorism (CT) policies domestically and abroad. The CT narrative generally focuses on terrorism perpetuated by men and countered by other men. Instead of rehashing this storyline, CHRGJ spent three years conducting in-depth research in order to understand the USG’s CT policy implications and impact on women and sexual minorities. It examines what it means to take a gender approach to counter-terrorism and terrorism, and also takes a look at assorted CT measures to include development activities, diplomacy and strategic communications, and border securitization and immigration among others. Finally, “A Decade Lost” offers insights into how to best measure counter-terrorism activities both in terms of gender impacts and efficacy. GC360 recommends turning off your cell, shutting down FB, and taking the time to read this rather lengthy, but in-depth and insightful report. Read full report.

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Tribes and Tribalism in the Syrian Uprising

The study of tribes and tribalism is essentially a study of power dynamics. Tribes are an organizational structure that wields power and influence by exerting collective action as a means of survival and self interest. Historically, alliances and coalitions between strong states or imperial powers and prominent tribal leaders have been established for  strategic purposes. The same holds true today. Haian Dhukan’s article discusses these and other issues in the context of the Syrian uprising. He delves into the structures, formations, and alliances of Syrian tribes as well as their assorted relationships with both the Al-Assad regime (under Hafez Al-Assad and his son, Bashar) and neighboring countries, especially Gulf nations. By reading Dhukan’s piece, you’ll gain a deep appreciation of tribes as “mini states” as well as the political landscape and current status of Syria as a state heading towards dissolution.  Read full article. 

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Strengthening community resilience against violent extremism, women in South Asia

When you think about counterterrorism, the first thing that comes to mind are activities that are reactive and involve law enforcement and military responses. These are the measures that grab headlines despite the fact that they only address a small part of the terrorism picture. This report by the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation (CGCC) draws attention to the importance of counterterrorism efforts that are preventive and proactive, i.e., those  that address conditions, grievances, and ideologies. And who is doing most of this important, yet under appreciated, work? No surprise, it’s civil society actors, particularly women. Learn more about the development-security divide, women as perpetrators and supporters of terrorism as well as being in the front lines of countering terrorism,  and assorted methods of community engagement aimed at preventing violent extremism. While the report focuses on counterterrorism efforts in South Asia, the take aways are relevant in any other place where violent extremism  has reared its ugly head. Read full report.

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