Against the background of a growing frustration with male-dominated and hard-power-oriented security strategies, Women without Borders (WwB) in 2008 launched its Sisters Against Violent Extremism (SAVE) network, the world’s first female counter-extremism platform. The initiative addresses the missing link between women at the local level where extremism takes root and decision-making levels where prevention and intervention strategies are developed. Since its inception, the SAVE network has given rise to seventeen country chapters and twenty-one cultural dialogue and capacity building initiatives. Maintaining a focus on preventing violent extremism (PVE) and female leadership throughout, it has convened hundreds of courageous female actors who recognise the value of alternative female diplomacy, ranging from victims and survivors of terrorist attacks to family members of perpetrators, and from grassroots activists to global decision-makers. The platform rapidly developed into a global movement that reached policymakers at the highest political levels: ‘Sisters Against Violent Extremism, a group of women in seventeen countries around the world who have risked their lives to tell terrorists that they are not welcome in their communities’, as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took note in 2011, ‘have written newspaper articles in Yemen, held workshops for young people in Indonesia, brought Indian and Pakistani women together to show a united front. These women know they will not stop extremism everywhere, but they refuse to sit on the sidelines’. The global community that came to fruition through WwB’s SAVE network of projects and grassroots activists has helped to normalise the notion of women as important security allies—to invest in and unite a smart network of alternative messengers, peacebuilders, and peacekeepers.


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