In April, 2016, I joined a panel as part of an interesting discussion on women who live in religiously extreme societies. You can have a listen here.

Public confusion is still widespread about the rights and roles of women in extremist societies. With the rise and resistance of ISIS, high public attention is being directed towards militant islamist groups. However, the status of women within societies struggling with terrorism is still a challenging concept to unravel. Why are women unfairly targeted under these actors, and what compels these organisations to regressively limit the rights of women? Why are some women themselves participating in the process, and most importantly, what mechanisms are there for the international community to address these issues?

Panellists included:

Dr Raihan Ismail: Raihan is a CAIS Associate Lecturer. She has a Bachelor in Political Science, with a minor in Islamic Studies, and a Masters in International Relations from the International Islamic University of Malaysia. Dr Ismail’s research interests include: Sectarianism in the Gulf region, Political Islam with a strong focus on Egypt and South East Asia, and studies of religious institutions in the Middle East.

Amne Alrifai: Amne is a writer at “Unveiled Thought”. Unveiled Thought is the result of Amne’s commentary on issues that primarily relate to social justice and multicultural affairs in Australia. For more information, visit her website at

Dr Vanessa Newby: Vanessa has lived in and researched the Middle East for over six years and is an Arabic speaker. Vanessa is a regular blogger for the Lowy Institute on Middle Eastern politics. Her research interests include Politics, religion, society, media, history and international relations of the Middle East.