Women, Gender, and Terrorism

Women, Gender, and Terrorism

Women, Gender, and Terrorism

Women, Gender, and Terrorism


In the last decade the world has witnessed a rise in women's participation in terrorism. Women, Gender, and Terrorism explores women's relationship with terrorism, with a keen eye on the political, gender, racial, and cultural dynamics of the contemporary world.

Throughout most of the twentieth century, it was rare to hear about women terrorists. In the new millennium, however, women have increasingly taken active roles in carrying out suicide bombings, hijacking airplanes, and taking hostages in such places as Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, and Chechnya. These women terrorists have been the subject of a substantial amount of media and scholarly attention, but the analysis of women, gender, and terrorism has been sparse and riddled with stereotypical thinking about women's capabilities and motivations.

In the first section of this volume, contributors offer an overview of women's participation in and relationships with contemporary terrorism, and a historical chapter traces their involvement in the politics and conflicts of Islamic societies. The next section includes empirical and theoretical analysis of terrorist movements in Chechnya, Kashmir, Palestine, and Sri Lanka. The third section turns to women's involvement in al Qaeda and includes critical interrogations of the gendered media and the scholarly presentations of those women. The conclusion offers ways to further explore the subject of gender and terrorism based on the contributions made to the volume.

Contributors to Women, Gender, and Terrorism expand our understanding of terrorism, one of the most troubling and complicated facets of the modern world.


Russell D. Howard

On December 13, 2009, a female suicide bomber attacked a police and cia compound building in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing eleven people. She ran into a housing complex where officers lived and detonated a bomb attached to her body. Her attack was associated with attempts to thwart a Pakistani military attack on a Taliban mountain stronghold. the increased presence of women in the high-profile activities of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations across the world—in both kinetic and supporting roles—presents unique challenges for counterterrorism professionals, policy makers, and academic analysts.

Helping to work through these challenges is Women, Gender, and Terrorism, a timely and topical compilation of articles authored by an eclectic group of female terrorism experts. These selections were compiled by Jennie Stone, a recent recipient of a master’s degree in law and diplomacy at the Fletcher School, tufts University, and a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve who now works at the mitre Corporation.

The genesis of this book was a grant from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation to the Jebsen Center for Counter-terrorism Studies, which culminated in an April 2007 conference at the Fletcher School entitled “Women and al-Qaeda.” Several of this work’s authors—Farhana Qazi, Alisa Stack, Caron Gentry, and Swati Parashar—presented papers at the conference. Stone planned and executed the conference with assistance from contributors Katherine Pattillo and Stacy Reiter Neal.

Both the conference and the scholarly work conducted by its participants were received with such enthusiasm that it made good sense to the conference organizers at the Jebsen Center and the Bradley Foundation to complete the enterprise with a published work.

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