Mother School (Women Without Borders)

Edit Schlaffer (Austria)



THE HUMAN IMPACT: Frontline communities and families in extremism hotspots are often confronted with discrimination, socio-economic inequality and violence. In this situation, many adolescents become vulnerable to radicalization and extremist recruitment. New channels of communication can help mothers identify negative shifts, change hierarchy and gender roles, and build empathy in families.

THE NUMBERS IMPACT: Based in Austria, MotherSchool is an integral part of international and local counter violent extremism strategies, building a united front of prepared family members well-equipped to tackle the growing problem of violent extremism on the homefront. They operate projects in Austria, Yemen, India, Pakistan, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Turkey, Cyprus, Zambia, and online around the world.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Women Without Borders’s Mother School Model develops the powerful potential of mothers in preventing radicalization within their families and in becoming ambassadors for de-radicalization in their communities. The work forms the missing link between women at the community level where radicalism is propagated and decision-making levels where counter violent extremism strategies are shaped. MotherSchools create a transformational experience for mothers by providing a save space where self-awareness, self-expression and self-empowerment are appreciated and encouraged. Through trusted community leaders and NGOs, mothers who are concerned about violent extremism are approached about safety of their children and their community. In a playful and highly interactive way, mothers learn about parenting, adolescent development and early warning signals of radicalization. This combination of personal transformation and increased capacity for action enables mothers to play a more influential and responsible role in their families, to change the communication with their children, and to become ambassadors for de-radicalization in their communities.

WHO STARTED IT: Edit Schlaffer started to work as a sociologist in the midst of the women’s movement. She soon found herself in the middle of this movement challenging different forms of discrimination against women in society, be it at home, in education or at work. When Edit started to implement the first trainings on security issues, she noticed that in the framework of conventional security concepts, women were usually assigned the role of victims rather than active and empowered contributors. This insight became the foundation of her refined mission and finally led to the design of the MotherSchool model.

HOW HELLO EUROPE IS HELPING: Supporting expansion across Europe and utilizing global network to build these best practices into European policy.

WHAT THEY NEED NOW: Introductions to European policymakers and funders, as well as national partners who are looking for ways to prevent radicalization by building stronger communities of mothers.

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *