A greater presence of women at the "top table" of government would have ensured more Afghans were rescued, a Tory MP has said.
Earlier this year, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. As part of Operation Pitting, 15,000 people were rescued by the British military.
However, for the women who remained in the country, many have been barred from holding jobs in public-sector roles and girls remain largely cut off from state secondary schooling.
Earlier this week, Afghanistan's Taliban authorities announced that women seeking to travel long distances should not be offered road transport unless they are accompanied by a close male relative, while vehicle owners were also told to refuse rides to women not wearing headscarves.
More women in prominent positions
Writing for The Telegraph, Nus Ghani, a former minister, has claimed that if more women had held cabinet positions during the height of the Afghan rescue mission, which was led by Boris Johnson, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, then more females would have been saved.
Ms Ghani said: “Still to this day I am taking calls and emails from women trapped inside the country or stuck in refugee camps around Afghanistan.
“It left me wondering how the West had failed to understand the value of Afghan female MPs, doctors, nurses, head teachers, who had risked life and limb to support democracy. If there were more women in the room when those decisions were made, I doubt we would have left thousands of women and girls behind to fight for their lives, knowing how the Taliban treats them. And we’re falling into the same trap again.”
Ms Ghani, who is a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, separately accused the Government of “ignoring the genocide being conducted in Xinjiang by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against the Uighurs”, which she said is effectively “a genocide through the use and abuse of women’s bodies”.
Ms Ghani said the Government needed “to take the fight to where women are suffering the most – against the Taliban and against the CCP in Xinjiang”.
She added that “politics can still be a lonely place as a woman” and that while the Conservative party and Parliament overall is gradually changing, “more often than not I am sat in a room full of men, and it’s the men who own the levers of power”.
She added: “We need more women’s voices around the top table in Government, speaking truth to power, so that it isn’t always women and girls that emerge from these equations as the losing party.”
We need more women’s voices around the top table in Government, speaking the truth to power
By Nusrat Ghani, Conservative MP for Wealden
Politics can still be a lonely place as a woman. True, our Parliament and party is gradually changing, but more often than not I am sat in a room full of men, and it’s the men who own the levers of power.
These men are usually fantastic, but naturally this means an element of group think, and that sometimes critical points are overlooked. And this is especially true when it comes to difficult foreign policy calls when women are often treated as an afterthought, or in some cases collateral.
Take our recent experience in Afghanistan. Over the last few years, 69 female Afghan MPs managed to rise to elected office against all the odds, having spent their lives undermining the Taliban, yet Western powers in retreat failed to help get them out.
I’ve taken phone calls from women and girls begging me to try and help them evacuate. They asked “where should we go? Is the airport safe or should we head for the border?” Some said “please just evacuate my children, I can try and hide myself.” My team and I worked throughout the night trying to offer any sort of help we could.
I remember being on the phone with a family member of one of Afghanistan’s female MPs at the moment a bomb detonated outside Kabul airport. Still to this day I am taking calls and emails from women trapped inside the country or stuck in refugee camps around Afghanistan.
It left me wondering how the West had failed to understand the value of Afghan female MPs, doctors, nurses, head teachers, who had risked life and limb to support democracy. If there were more women in the room when those decisions were made, I doubt we would have left thousands of women and girls behind to fight for their lives, knowing how the Taliban treats them. And we’re falling into the same trap again.
The Government is ignoring the genocide being conducted in Xinjiang by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against the Uyghurs. And one of the methods being used is biological, which particularly affects women.
Over the last year, the independent Uyghur Tribunal has amassed by far the most comprehensive body of evidence on the Uyghur crisis in existence. Chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC - who has prosecuted genocide perpetrators in the wake of the Bosnian War – it published its findings just before Christmas.
Sir Geoffrey discussed the deliberate use of “birth control measures” to “reduce the Uyghur population thereby to destroy it”.
The CCP is waging a genocide through the use and abuse of women’s bodies; biologically, physically and culturally, and this control of women’s bodies by a state is even more grotesque than an episode of the Handmaid’s Tale. In fact the CCP’s birth control programme to reduce the Uyghur population has reduced birth rates by more than 60 per cent in some areas.
Tursunay Ziawudun, who I met in Washington, told her story about being a woman in Xinjiang on the BBC. She spoke of battering, rape, abuse, the destruction of her fertility, the forced removal of children, and the incarceration of members of her family.
I was in the audience as the Tribunal methodically went through its ground-breaking legal determination that a genocide was taking place, and the verdict was a rare moment of accountability for the families of victims and survivors of the PRC regime’s cruelty. There were gasps in the audience, as well as sobbing from Uyghurs sitting in the crowd. If Global Britain is to mean anything, Britain must act in the face of this overwhelming evidence.
Over the last couple of years, I have repeatedly called for the British Government to protect the Uyghur people. First, I battled to have a Genocide Amendment added to the Trade Bill, to stop the Government forming preferential trade agreements with countries committing genocide, so that we couldn’t profit from genocide. This was ignored.
Then my Business Select Committee report made recommendations so that we can ensure UK businesses are not exploiting slave labour in the camps, so that British consumers don’t become complicit too. Again, the Government chose to reject all of our major recommendations, despite the shocking evidence we had heard as from witnesses of the slave like conditions inside the "re-education" camps across the region.
Then I was sanctioned by the People’s Republic of China - the only female MP to be on their list – as the Chinese Communist Party lashed out and attempted to intimidate us because I dared shine a light on the genocide they are bringing about. The PRC have now labelled me an enemy of the state.
Despite this crass attempt to bully me and intimidate our democracy, I presented a motion for Parliament to consider and MPs made history by recognising – unanimously - that the treatment of Uyghurs in China is genocide, joining the Parliaments of Canada, the Netherlands and the United States Government.
I am fortunate to be surrounded by many fantastic colleagues on all sides of the House and parliamentarians around the world, and I’m incredibly proud of all the work we have achieved this year fighting to protect women and girls around the world. But we need to take the fight to where women are suffering the most – against the Taliban and against the CCP in Xinjiang.
Foreign policy decision making is not simple. It involves a series of tense trade-offs – values against economics, alliances against allegiances, today against tomorrow. But we need more women’s voices around the top table in Government, speaking truth to power, so that it isn’t always women and girls that emerge from these equations as the losing party.
Full article here.