Cross-Regional Trends in Female Terrorism


Cunningham, Karla J. 2003. “Cross-Regional Trends in Female Terrorism.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 26 (3): 171-95.

Author: Karla J. Cunningham


Worldwide, women have historically participated in terrorist groups but their low numbers and seemingly passive roles have undermined their credibility as terrorist actors for many observers. This analysis contends that female involvement with terrorist activity is widening ideologically, logistically, and regionally for several reasons: increasing contextual pressures (e.g., domestic/international enforcement, conflict, social dislocation) creates a mutually reinforcing process driving terrorist organizations to recruit women at the same time women's motivations to join these groups increases; contextual pressures impact societal controls over women that may facilitate, if not necessitate, more overt political participation up to, and including, political violence; and operational imperatives often make female members highly effective actors for their organizations, inducing leaders toward "actor innovation" to gain strategic advantage against their adversary.

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Terrorism

Year: 2003

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at