The “Empowering Women, Countering Extremism” EWCE is a training program for young professionals from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan and Denmark on the role of women in preventing radical and violent extremism in time of social media within and between their societies. Women have always played a role in war, if not in actual combat then in the vital areas of intelligence gathering, medical care, food preparation and support. ISIS’s vicious campaign to carve out a state ruled by a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law is no different, though its strict laws prohibiting mixing between genders has limited women’s presence on the front lines. Instead, women are drawn — or recruited — into vital support roles through effective social-media campaigns that promise devout jihadist husbands, a home in a true Islamic state and the opportunity to devote their lives to their religion and their God. (‘How the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria recruits female converts, and why’, Time.com, 6 September 2014).
The program is based on a cross-cultural and interfaith methodology of dialogue and making use of the social media networks. It combines training and networking workshops, developing a toolkit on countering extremism through social media, launching a mobile application and online initiatives designed and implemented by the trainees themselves within their local communities.
The EWCE is an initiative that is carried out in cooperation between Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue FDCD and Danmission with the support of the Danish-Arab Partnership Initiative at the Danish ministry of Foreign affairs.
Empowered women lead the peaceful transformation of a society suffering from violent extremism towards a flourishing community based on mutual understanding.
EWCE empowers Women and Youth – the agents of change- concerned with peaceful coexistence, inter-faith dialogue and reconciliation to voice up their needs and concerns in the currently shaping new Middle East.
The overall objective of the EWCE is to create a functional network of women and young men in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan and Denmark, that helps in exchange of information and good practices on addressing the issues of hate speech, hate crime and other manifestations of extremism. This is implied through equipping them with skills to build their own counter- messages that targeted their local communities to help in preventing travel of women and youth to Iraq, Syria, Libya and even Egypt to join ISIS. In addition to “tweeting” messages of peace and reconciliation instead of the hatred and violent messages that have been circulated lately on the social media channels by the extremists.
A new phase has just started
Although we started out as a training program, the Empowering Women, Countering Extremism (EWCE) cause is now aiming to become a collaboration of
individuals, organizations and institutions that share the same goal: to make a positive difference in our communities in the face of violent extremism.
The EWCE is inter-faith and international. We believe in actions, not just words. This is our chance to build on the good work that others already carry out to protect our communities. This is our chance to collaborate, to form new partnerships, and to make a real difference.
To join our cause please like and follow our Facebook page: @EWCExtremism