What About the Women? Understanding and Addressing the Problem of ISIS Female Recruitment in the Western Balkans

This policy paper, by BCSP guest researcher Eric Mietz, aims to bring attention to an oft-neglected security problem in the Western Balkans: women being recruited by—and migrating to—the Islamic State. In many ways, female recruits, both from the Western Balkans and other regions, are attracted to the Islamic State for the exact same reasons as men, yet the roles of women in the Islamic State and the messaging the group uses to lure women to migrate to Syria and Iraq are sufficiently different to warrant a gender-based perspective in countering violent extremism (CVE) policymaking. The Islamic State and ways to defeat it dominate current media headlines and policy discussions, but as propaganda continues to attract women, strategies to topple the Islamic State will require equal attention to both male and female recruits in order to be successful.