Stop terrorism: Talk to women

Britain's Baroness Pola Manzila Uddin thinks that appointing more women to positions of power might stop the spread of homegrown terrorism.

By Catherine Price

Published July 3, 2007 5:40PM (EDT)

Here's an interesting idea, put forth by Baroness Pola Manzila Uddin of the British House of Lords, on how to stop homegrown terrorism: Start talking to Muslim women. Baroness Uddin's proposal, reported on by ABC News, is based on the idea that women are "every family's early warning radar," and yet they're not being heard because, in Uddin's words, "'there are a handful of [Muslim] men out there who have dominated the political agenda and dominated the media.'"

So she's suggesting that the British government should sometimes "go over the heads of the Muslim men who dominate her community socially and politically, and appoint more women to key national and local government posts," reports ABC. Uddin believes that women, if given positions of power, would have "significant contributions to make" in areas that lead to discontent, like unemployment and bad housing. She also believes that women leaders "would make sure that Muslim boys and young men would be better educated and feel more a part of Western society."

Now, I agree with Baroness Uddin that it would be a good thing if Muslim women were put in more positions of power. But I'm not sure why she assumes that women, if appointed, would do a better job of dealing with the root causes of terrorism than men would -- it seems (in this article at least) that her hopes of combating terrorism are getting conflated with her hopes of granting Muslim women more equality. What's more, if part of a terrorist's rage stems from the spread of Western values -- like, you know, equality for women? -- then putting women in positions of power is probably not going to do much to calm him down. But then again, empowering women and trying to eliminate some of the factors that can lead to terrorism are both noble goals. Abbin's idea would be difficult to implement, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't give it a try.

Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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