The presence of violent extremist groups has become an increasingly pressing issue around the globe, and although there is a growing number of women involved in these groups, there is a lack of research and resources dedicated to women in deradicalization efforts and countering violent extremism (CVE). Programs to rehabilitate participants in violent extremist groups and preemptive efforts to thwart involvement are designed by men, for men. As women are joining radical groups at an unprecedented rate, and even returning to these groups after rehabilitation, this calls for immediate attention and action. The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) published a policy brief earlier this year that outlines findings about women in deradicalization and rehabilitation. Recent studies have found that 20% of Western recruits to the Islamic State (IS) are women, and female suicide bombers for Boko Haram have increased substantially. Further, the EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report found that the number of women arrested for violent extremist participation rose to 25% in 2016, a 7% increase from the prior year. A major roadblock for deradicalization efforts is the misconception about why women join terrorist groups. Although horrific stories of girls and women being kidnapped and forced into extremist groups, or women being coerced by husbands to join are very real, research has proven that women join these groups for a variety of complex reasons. Just like men, women may join radical groups due to family ties, economic or social opportunity, or religious ideology, amongst other reasons. Despite research to support this, the narrative of women being victims of coercion persists "While men’s agency is assumed”, according to GIWPS, “women are infantilized or sexualized.” Consequently, “This can lead to more lenient sentencing, inadequate rehabilitation programming, and perhaps even let dangerous actors slip through the cracks.” In spite of challenges, there have been some efforts to create deradicalization programs that include women. Last year, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria and the Center for Democracy and Development brought together women in Maiduguri, Nigeria to share ideas about countering radical ideology in their community. In an area where Boko Haram has terrorized civilians for the last decade, this workshop aimed to empower women to create lasting solutions. One of the participants of the workshop, Mariam Ngileruma, expressed the importance of education. “What if the women were educated, and then allowed to educate their own children?” Ngileruma asked. “Socialization starts at home and when you educate women, you educate the whole.” Along with education, job training is essential for women to be rehabilitated. GIWPS reported that employment opportunities for women after serving prison sentences are three times worse than their male counterparts, mainly because job training programs are inadequate, ineffective, or even nonexistent for women. Because some women join extremist groups due to lack of economic opportunity or access to social services, if they are not given better opportunities after incarceration or rehabilitation, they are more likely to return to their radical groups. Above all, bringing women to the forefront of deradicalization efforts will be the most effective solution to counteracting female involvement in violent extremism and ensuring proper rehabilitation. According to GIWPS, “Identifying, empowering, and consulting credible women leaders is a crucial part of creating sustainable deradicalization and rehabilitation programs that address individual and community needs.” This can be accomplished in a variety of ways—through empowering mothers to educate their children, supporting women in religious and political positions, and encouraging women to engage in a dialogue with their community. The participation of women in violent extremism is not something that we can let slip through the cracks. As these women face unique challenges in the process of deradicalization and rehabilitation, we need to support and encourage solutions made by women, for women.

But it’s difficult to think about value when we have no buoy for understanding it outside our traditional lenses: for example, our time, our job, and what others tell us they are worth in cash. This, largely, is the world’s paradigm for value so far. But understanding what value really means changes everything—and will be at the center of the decentralized revolution in global coordination that will unfold over the next decade. So, where do we begin?

Let’s start with gold.

Gold is an inherent value. When backing a market, gold allows us to grow a balanced economy well into the trillions. But why does it allow for massive stable markets to form around it? It is gold's permanence that creates stability. We understand that gold will always have value, because it is inherent in all of us, not just in one part of the world, but everywhere, not just today, but tomorrow and for the long haul.

In the 1930s when the gold standard was removed, we learned that the U.S. dollar didn’t need gold to back its economy to flourish. We learned that it was just a symbol for U.S. citizens to decentralize their coordination around the United States economy.

It turns out, common agreement is a philosophy for building shared economy.

And so it seems inherent value is a marker for us to begin exploring what the future could look like—a future beyond gold and the existing realm of credit. And so what else has inherent value? Is education as valuable as gold? What about healthcare? What about a vote that can’t be tampered with? What about an ID that can’t be stolen or erased? What about access to nutrition or clean water? You will find value everywhere you look.

It turns out, we’ve already done the legwork necessary to uncover the most elemental inherent values: The Sustainable Development Goals are commitments grown out of the drive to bring to life basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the closest possible social contract we have to a global, common agreement.

We’ve already agreed, as a global community, to ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality education. We’ve already agreed to empower all women and girls, to ensure pure and clean water access for all, to promote health at all stages of life, and to end hunger.

We’ve already agreed.

Our agreements are grounded in deep value centers that are globally shared, but undervalued and unfulfilled. The reason for this is our inability to quantify intangible value. All of these rich, inherent values are still nebulous and fragmented in implementation—largely existing as ideals and blueprints for deep, globally shared common agreement. That is, we all agree education, health, and equality have value, but we lack common units for understanding who and who is not contributing value—leaving us to fumble in our own, uncoordinated siloes as we chase the phantoms of impact. In essence, we lack common currencies for our common agreements.

Now we find ourselves at the nexus of the real paradigm of Blockchain, allowing us to fuse economics with inherent value by proving the participation of some great human effort, then quantifying the impact of that effort in unforgeable and decentralized ledgers. It allows us to build economic models for tomorrow, that create wholly new markets and economies for and around each of the richest of human endeavors.

In late 2017 at the height of the Bitcoin bubble, without individual coordination, planning, or the help of institutions, almost $1 trillion was infused into blockchain markets. This is remarkable, and the revolution has only just begun. When you realize that Blockchain is in a similar stage of development as the internet pre-AOL, you will see a glimpse of the global transformation to come.

Only twice in the information age have we had such a paradigm shift in global infrastructure reform—the computer and the internet. While the computer taught us how to store and process data, the Internet built off that ability and furthered the conversation by teaching us how to transfer that information. Blockchain takes another massive step forward—it builds off the internet, adding to the story of information storage and transfer—but, it teaches us a new, priceless and not yet understood skill: how to transfer value.

This third wave kicked off with a rough start—as happens with the birth of new technologies and their corresponding liberties. Blockchain has, thus far, been totally unregulated. Many, doubtless, have taken advantage. A young child, stretching their arms for the first couple times might knock over a cookie jar or two. Eventually, however, they learn to use their faculties—for evil or for good. As such, while it’s wise to be skeptical at this phase in blockchain’s evolution, it’s important not to be blind to its remarkable implications in a post-regulated world, so that we may wield its faculties like a surgeon’s scalpel—not for evil or snake-oil sales, but for the creation of more good, for the flourishing of commonwealth.

But what of the volatility in blockchain markets? People agree Bitcoin has value, but they don’t understand why they are in agreement, and so cryptomarkets fluctuate violently.  Stable blockchain economies will require new symbolic gold standards that clearly articulate why someone would agree to support each market, to anchor common agreement with stability. The more globally shared these new value standards, the better.

Is education more valuable than gold? What about healthcare or nutrition or clean water?

We set out in 2018 to prove a hypothesis—we believe that if you back a cryptocurrency economy with a globally agreed upon inherent value like education, you can solve for volatility and stabilize a mature long lasting cryptomarket that awards everyone who adds value to that market in a decentralized way without the friction of individual partnerships.

What if education was a new gold standard?

And what if this new Learning Economy had protocols to award everyone who is helping to steward the growth of global education?

Education is a mountain. Everyone takes a different path to the top. Blockchain allows us to measure all of those unique learning pathways, online and in classrooms, into immutable blockchain Learning Ledgers.

By quantifying the true value of education, a whole economy can be built around it to pay students to learn, educators to create substantive courses, and stewards to help the Learning Economy grow. It was designed to provide a decentralized way for everyone adding value to global education to coordinate around the commonwealth without the friction of individual partnerships. Imagine the same for healthcare, nutrition, and our environment?

Imagine a world where we can pay refugees to learn languages as they find themselves in foreign lands, a world where we can pay those laid off by the tide of automation to retrain themselves for the new economy, a world where we can pay the next generation to prepare themselves for the unsolved problems of tomorrow.

Imagine new commonwealth economies that alleviate the global burdens of poverty, disease, hunger, inequality, ignorance, toxic water, and joblessness. Commonwealths that orbit inherent values, upheld by immutable blockchain protocols that reward anyone in the ecosystem stewarding the economy—whether that means feeding the hungry, providing aid for the global poor, delivering mosquito nets in malaria-ridden areas, or developing transformative technologies that can provide a Harvard-class education to anyone in the world willing to learn.

These worlds are not out of reach—we are only now opening our eyes to the horizons of blockchain, decentralized coordination, and new gold standards. Even though coordination is the last of the seventeen sustainable development goals, when solved, its tide will lift for the rest—a much-needed rocket fuel for global prosperity.

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.”  —George Washington
Hannah Bergstrom
Hannah Bergstrom is a Diplomatic Courier Correspondent and Brand Ambassador for the Learning Economy.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.