Violent extremist groups differ in many aspects- ideology, operations, geography etc.- but almost all seek and recruit disillusioned young men as fighters on their front lines. The ubiquity of this strategy means that young men are drawn to such groups less because of the groups' specific beliefs and more out of an inherent need to fulfill their identities as men. Policies and analysis to counter violent extremism must therefore incorporate gender analysis-- "men-stream" their efforts- in order to identify factors that make men vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups.
Acknowledgements: I would like to thank my mentors at George Washington University who have introduced me to the field of gender and development and have provided invaluable guidance, including Dr. Christina Fink and Dr. Aisling Swaine, as well as Drs. Mary Ellsberg and Manuel Contreras-Urbina of the Global Women's Institute. I would also like to thank Dr. Gary Barker of Promundo, whose work has been an inspiration in writing this brief. I would also like to thank my mom.
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