Today, Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, released a short film documenting the gendered impacts of counter-terrorism. 

The film provides a snapshot of how counter-terrorism disproportionately affects women, girls, and the LGTBQIA+ community and showcases civil society’s critical work in documenting these harms and defending human rights in the face of counter-terrorism measures. Through the country-specific context of El Salvador, the film provides a global overview of some of the downstream harms of overbroad national counter-terrorism laws and practices and the subsequent harms they impose on women, girls, and families. 

In the film, the Special Rapporteur notes how counter-terrorism has traditionally lacked a gender lens and analysis:

“I think for a very long time counter-terrorism saw itself as kind of neutral. It doesn’t affect women more than men. It goes about its work in a way that simply attacks the challenge, which is terrorism. But actually, terrorism violence is deeply gendered. The production of violence, what brings people into violent groups, has a gender component. So I think understanding the gender of violence then helps us see the gendered response to that violence. From sanctions, to detention, to countering terrorism finance, to certain kinds of administrative measures in counter-terrorism. Those measures in particular affect women and girls in highly detrimental ways.”

The Charity and Security Network (C&SN) supports the Special Rapporteur’s stance on this important issue of the gendered impact of counter-terrorism. Recently, C&SN submitted input to the Special Rapporteur’s open call for submissions for the first independent Global Study on the Impact of Counter-Terrorism Measures on Civil Society and Civic Space, which will be issued in 2023. 

Within this submission, C&SN documented the ways in which counter-terrorism measures negatively impact women’s rights organizations and women-led organizations’ ability to operate. The submission also provided country-specific examples where States implemented overbroad definitions of terrorism to suppress and criminalize the legitimate work of women’s rights organizations. 

C&SN supports the Special Rapporteur’s intersectional approach to examining the impacts of counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism laws and practices. As our community celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD) today, we look forward to keeping the voices of women, girls, and the LGBTQIA+ centered the whole year through.