A new report prepared by the Duke Law International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) and the Women Peacemakers Program (WPP) looks at the effects of countering terrorism financing (CTF) measures on women’s rights organizing, women’s rights organizations, and gender equality globally, especially in areas of conflict or at risk of terrorism.
Tightening the Purse Strings: What Countering Terrorism Financing Costs Gender Equality and Security outlines the complexities of the global CTF regime and its effects on gender equality and places them in international human rights law framework. In the aftermath of 9/11, the international community turned to the financial system as a way to fight terrorism. The US government took a prominent role in standard-setting, as did the intergovernmental Financial Access Task Force (FATF). Banking institutions were also drawn into the mix and became enforcers of many of these new standards.
While civil society as a whole has suffered under this regulatory scheme, women’s rights organizing and organizations have been impacted in a particularly acute way because of certain characteristics. The report notes, “Highly reliant on foreign funding and often in receipt of short-term or project-based funding, women’s rights organizations have little financial resilience, are nascent or newly-established, are relatively small and often operate at the grassroots level, and already often face some degree of financial exclusion.” Women’s rights organizations also frequently work on controversial and social change-related issues, meaning that they sometimes in conflict with their own governments.
The report aims to highlight the seemingly overlooked gender and human rights implications of these CTF policies and to begin to “fill these gaps in understanding how responses to terrorism and violent extremism may, in practice, undermine gender equality.” It assesses the international human rights law compliance of these measures with “obligations, such as prohibitions on both direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of sex and gender and guaranteeing freedom of association, assembly, and expression, including in ensuring access to resources.”
The report found “that women’s rights and their defenders across the globe are frequently squeezed between terrorism and violent extremism on the one hand, and counter-terrorism or preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) on the other.” A survey of grassroots women’s organizations undertaken for the report revealed that 86.67 percent of respondents classified their organization’s work as contributing to combatting terrorism and violent extremism, but that 90 percent said that CTF measures had an adverse impact on their work.
Read the full report here.