‘Women being targeted in world’s conflict flashpoints,’ says former minister

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‘Women being targeted in world’s conflict flashpoints,’ says former minister

Jewish-Muslim virtual conference hears politicans on both sides talk of the need for unity amid Afghan, Ukraine and Uyghur crises

Anna Hussain, Lindy Diamond, Ahmereen Reza and Laura Marks of Nisa-Nashim prepare for conference with homemade samosas. Photo: Yakir Zur
Anna Hussain, Lindy Diamond, Ahmereen Reza and Laura Marks of Nisa-Nashim prepare for conference with homemade samosas. Photo: Yakir Zur

A former government minister has expressed her horror that women are being targeted in global conflicts, at a summit for Jewish and Muslim women.

Nusrat Ghani MP told the annual Nisa-Nashim conference “women are the collateral damage” amid the plight of Afghani, Uyghur and now Ukrainian women.

They are all subject to horrific, gender specific persecution, Ms Ghani told more than 100 women at the event, held online with the theme ‘Navigating Crisis’.

Ms Ghani spoke of Daesh, the Chinese Government and Putin’s regime, all of which have targeted her directly, as examples of the greatest threats of today – the rise of tyrannical regimes and the lack of confidence of Western liberal democracies.

Former MP for Stoke and chief executive of Index on Censorship, Ruth Smeeth focussed on the crisis of people without a voice in repressive regimes. She urged the “strong and gobby” Nisa-Nashim women to drive change.

The conference is the largest of its kind in Europe and brings Jewish and Muslim women from all over the UK together to discuss pressing issues including the environment, violence against women, food poverty, grief and the Israel/Palestine conflict.

With tensions running high after the death of journalist Shareen Abu Akleh last week, Sarah Bernstein, chief executive of the Rossing Centre in Jerusalem, urged delegates to talk about the conflict – but not to let it destroy their relationships. Speaking alongside head teacher Hunan Abu-Dalu, she urged the virtual room to support peace through offering everyone support not just one side.

British-born Bernstein called it “profoundly unhelpful” to be anti-Israeli and, equally, encouraged the Jewish community to stop being anti-Palestinian and insecure.

In Nisa-Nashim traditional style, alongside the serious discussions was a chance for participants to laugh, chat and play games as they re-committed to their powerful friendships.

Nisa-Nashim co-founder and acting chief executive Laura Marks OBE said: “The world may be in crisis but one thing we heard again and again at our conference is that we are in this together. Friendship and supporting one another is no longer optional, it is the only way forward.”

Other notable speakers at the event were Department of the Environment permanent secretary Tamara Finkelstein, and Dr Husna Ahmad, chief executive of Global One.


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