Mothers MOVE!

Mothers MOVE 
Mothers Opposing Violent Extremism

SAVE's “Mothers MOVE!” (Mothers Opposing Violent Extremism) campaign provides mothers the encouragement, support and necessary tools to protect their children from the threat of violent extremism.

Our campaign takes place in Yemen, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Nigeria, the UK and Ireland. Women are strategically positioned to raise consciousness for the threat of violent extremism and to empower women to reduce the attraction of extremist ideologies. They build an ideal early warning system when their sons, daughters or husbands travel down the wrong path.

SAVE works with existing mothers' groups, and where necessary convenes new groups, who take part in an integrated income-generation and anti-extremism workshop. The sessions provide women with the opportunity to bring an economic contribution to the home and thus increase their decision-making power, while simultaneously equipping them with the rhetorical tools to promote a culture of peace.

Using manuals specially formulated by SAVE for the groups, women take part in confidence-building, presentation and speaking exercises to build their effectiveness in debate, before learning about the benefits of moderation and how to spot radical tendencies in youth.

Watch a short film of the June 2011 Mothers MOVE! Conference.

Meet the women of the Mothers MOVE initiative:

Siham Abu Awwad

Growing up in the occupied Palestinian territory, Seham Abu Awwad's mother was an active member of the Palestinian Liberation Army. When Seham was fourteen years old, her mother was arrested by the Israeli government. Seham's three brothers, who followed in their mother's footsteps by resisting the occupation, were also arrested and served months in prison. In 2000, one of Seham's brothers was critically injured by a gunshot to the leg, and soon after another one of her brothers was killed by an IDF soldier at a checkpoint.  After these devastating events, Seham's mother changed her attitude about resisting the occupation and joined the Parents Circle Families Forum (PCFF), a group of 500 Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost family members and work together for reconciliation. Seham, whose son is currently serving time in an Israeli jail, was at first reluctant, but then followed her mother's path and joined the PCFF. Although her mother passed away in 2006, Seham continues to be an active member of the PCFF and coordinates the organization's Women's Committee.

Robi Damelin

In 2002, Robi Damelin’s son David was killed by a Palestinian sniper while he was guarding a checkpoint during his army reserve service. A Tel Aviv University student working toward his Masters in Philosophy of Education, David was opposed to the war but felt that it was his duty to serve as a model of respect for the other Israeli soldiers. After her son’s death, Robi started to search for ways in which to stop the cycle of violence and prevent other Israelis and Palestinians from experiencing such loss. Despite initial misgivings, Robi joined the Parents Circle/Bereaved Families Forum, which is a group of 500 Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost close family members and work together for reconciliation and a just resolution to the conflict. Robi is now an active member of the group and speaks domestically and internationally to further her aim of increasing understanding between the Israeli and Palestinian people. Two and a half years after the shooting, Israeli Defense Force soldiers arrested the sharpshooter. Robi found herself faced with a real test: she needed to see if she really meant what she said when she travelled around the world talking about reconciliation and peace. Robi finally decided to write a letter to the sniper’s family, in expressing her pain but simultaneously opening a path for communication. Although the family did not pass on her letter to the imprisoned sharpshooter, a Palestinian member of the Families Forum read the letter to the prisoner. The man was in shock and said he would write a letter back to Robi, which she is still waiting to receive.


Farah is a mother of one son and one daughter. Her 20-year-old son was studying in one of the leading private schools in Peshawar. He would often visit relatives living in Swat Valley. Farah noticed that her son had started to say regular prayers and also started to object to the way his sister and mother dressed, the television at home and the family’s way of life. Initially, she did not realize why her son had become so radical in his thinking but when he became quite aggressive she started to check his mobile phone messages and found that he was very closely interacting with a network of extremists from Swat who won his heart and mind. Her son had been staying with them during his very frequent visits to Swat. Farah found to her horror that her son had begun to believe the Taliban’s extremist approach and was ready to leave home to join them. Farah at first used dialogue drawing on the Quran to counter her son’s arguments. She also stopped him from using the internet and his cell phone. After Farah discussed her son’s situation with the school principal. However, instead of offering to help, the Principal expelled her son from school. For two years, Farah worked to bring her son back from the brink of extremism, despite threats to her safety. Farah will tell her courageous story to highlight how mothers can operate as an early-warning system to discourage youth from becoming involved in extremist groups. 

Hayati Eka Laksmi

On the day of the Bali bombing in 2002, Hayati “Eka” Laksmi’s husband Imawan Sardjono was driving through the Kuta district with three guests from Jakarta. His car got stuck in traffic, three vehicles away from the planted bomb. A representative of the rental company from which Imawan had borrowed the car visited Eka to tell her that her husband had been hit by the explosion. Frantically, she searched for information, trying to find out where her husband was and if he was still alive. After seven days, she found his body in a mortuary.

For six months, Eka received counseling from a psychiatrist at an NGO that was actively trying to help survivors and victims’ families. Once she completed the therapy, the NGO asked her to become a part of the staff, which allowed her to earn some money. Additionally, she opened a small shop in her own house, selling domestic goods like sugar, coffee and gas. With the support of friends and family, she converted herself from a housewife into a professional, and is now working as a Guidance Counselor at a private school.

Once she had resolved the most pressing needs of everyday life, she turned to the spiritual needs of her children, taking them to counseling. Eka began to build a support network for her friends from victims’ families, bringing them to counseling and creating an organization called ISANA DEWATA (Wife Husband Children of Victims of the Bali bombings). The aim of the organization was to ensure that the victims would meet more often to communicate, share and support one another. “This sense of common fate makes us stronger,” says Eka. The group consists of 22 families, including 47 children.

Dewirini Anggraeni

Dewirini Anggraeni, or “Anggie”, is a young mother from Jakarta, Indonesia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the State Islamic University in Jakarta. Anggie has firsthand experience of the restrictions women can face when they try to become active in their societies – her work in peace-building initiatives and refusal to stay at home as a housewife has led to great difficulties in her marriage. Still, the support of her family and friends inspires her to bravely continue her important work with women and youth in Indonesia.

Anggie has worked extensively with youth to inculcate values of forgiveness, respect for difference, non-discrimination, and non-violence. The Youth Peace Camps aimed to develop a network of young males and females and bring to their awareness the danger of violence and radicalism, encouraging them to share these messages with their school communities through extracurricular activities. It is particularly important to focus on students, according to Anggie, as the ideologies that lead to incidents such as the Bali bombing are often bred in universities. “There are different interpretations of Islam in Indonesia. The potential for terrorist violence still exists in Indonesia. There are people brainwashing university students.” The university that Anggie studied at has been mentioned on the news as one of the institutions where radicalization takes place.
Khadija Hawaja

Khadija is an expert in Islamic Studies, and one of the only women in Nigeria who commands the same respect as male religious leaders. She has studied Islam for many years, and is now a preacher and lecturer to both Muslims and Non-Muslims. When conflict first broke out in her community, Khadija was unable to look at the events dispationately, and saw the violence as Muslim versus Christian. She organized a Muslim women’s protest march in reaction to the Esther Ibanga’s 100,000 Women March. When Esther approached her in an attempt to start talking about the issues and find common ground, Khadija began to realize that both Muslim and Christian women were victims of the same circumstances. Since then, she has been leading her community towards reconciliation with the Christian community, and now works with Esther Ibanga in the Women without Walls Initiative.

Esther Ibanga

Esther Ibanga is a Christian pastor and mother of two daughters living in Jos, Nigeria. She is the first woman to have founded a Christian Ministry in her state, and is a prominent religious and opinion leader. She organized the 100000 Women March in reaction to the Dogo-Nahawa massacre in Jos state, which targeted women and children. Shortly afterwards, Muslim women organized a similar march, and Esther realized that it was time for women from the two communities to reach out to one another in an attempt to resolve the conflict through dialogue. Esther founded Women without Walls in cooperation with Muslim counterparts, and together they are calling on men and government to sheath their swords and settle their differences.

Nadia Al-Sakkaf

Nadia Al-Sakkaf is the Editor-in-Chief of the Yemen Times, Yemen’s independent English-language newspaper, and is the only woman leading a newspaper in Yemen. Despite initial resistance to a woman taking such a position, Nadia has made a great success of the paper. She is also a mother and ensures that issues affecting women achieve a prominent place in Yemeni media, and that the outside world is able to access unbiased news from the ground in English.

During Nadia’s six years as editor, the paper has won four international awards. Nadia has also tried to alter the mentality in Yemen on what is newsworthy, often carrying stories on women and children instead of politics on the front page. She has received very positive feedback on this unusual reporting. Nadia is also positive that independent media is able to reflect the needs of the public, rather than the interests of politicians. “In societies like Yemen, women are the most disadvantaged and vulnerable group,” says Nadia. “Only free media will stand up for them as equal citizens and promote their rights.”

Shaimaa Abdel Fattah

Shaimaa is a teacher and mother living in Cairo, Egypt. She studied English Literature and Spanish at university, and after graduation she began training to be a teacher, especially in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. She has now been a teacher for 9 years, and since the revolution in Egypt, she sees an even more central role for teachers and mothers in the education of the new generation that will lead the country to democracy.

“It is essential to focus on youth. They will one day be our president etc. They must be well equipped for all the challenges, especially the new technical challenges and new approaches of the modern age. They must be given the opportunity to make changes in their society and a difference in their own lives.”

For more information on the Mothers MOVE initiative please visit our website.

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