editorial guidelines

5 Winged Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism

Gulalai Ismail

We, at AWARE GIRLS have identified the 5 key factors which draw young people towards militancy. The elements which had made me and many other young people wish to go for Jihad, became the very elements we used to attract them to peace building.


  1. Militants promote one, uniform worldview, and reject all others as haram, wrong. We bring people from different faiths and worldviews together giving them the opportunity to live the beauty of it.


  1. Millitants cut young people off from their own indigenous identities, and that makes them vulnerable to militants identity politics/propaganda. We help young people celebrate their indigenous culture and history. we engages young people in community dialogues, intergenerational dialogue and cultural activities which help them explore their own indigenous pluralistic discourse and indigenous movements of non-violence


  1. Militants make young people feel worthy through Jihad. We help them feel celebrated too. And they start realizing their worth once they start making difference in the lives of other young people. We provide them platforms and opportunities for building their own initiatives- small scale initiatives. Research shows that small scale local initiatives are more effective than large scale programs in reducing violence. In the last 7 years we’ve supported a range of initiatives of young people in the network which included peace education campaigns, mediation of conflicts in community, inter-faith dialogues, and digital media campaigns.


  1. Jihadist offer only one kind of hero – the martyr, and only one kind of glory- the glory of war. We connect them with the indigenous heroes of non-violence to teach them the glory of non-violent heroism. We support young people to be heroes in their own lives – by saving lives, rebuilding communities, bringing prosperity, building peace. We help them see heroism in goals higher than Jihad.


  1. Mass communication campaigns may be effective, but we’ve learned that we need to engage each person individually. Whilst political or social environments might make them vulnerable, their particular story, their trigger towards radicalization, is personal. So we get to know each individual. Relationships are key. Young people are inspired by their friends: young people become heroes and role models for each other. Our 500 young peacebuilders who have been trained by Aware Girls as peacebuilders, have reached out to 10,000 young people through peer to peer education preventing them from indoctrination of violent extremist narrative.


Our network now includes more than 500 peer educators who reach out to around 3000 young people every year, young people who would otherwise remain vulnerable to the narrative of militancy.


We’ve impacted the lives of more than 10,000 young people at risk of radicalisation, creating a pull towards peace, changing their lives and saving the lives of countless more.


Curious social innovator, STEM education advocate, and social entrepreneur

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