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A fine gender balance in US-India diplomacy amid continued female oppression by Taliban 2.0 – World News


WASHINGTON: At a time world attention is focused on the return of Taliban 2.0 in Kabul and its treatment of Afghan women, the US-India dialogue in Washington DC this week provided a striking visual moment in gender balance. A bilateral 2+2 Inter-sessional meeting showed both the US and Indian delegations having a fair representation of women: 3+3 women with 3+3 men on both sides.
A press release from the Indian Embassy accompanying the photo said the Indian delegation was led jointly by Vani Rao, joint secretary (Americas) in the Ministry of External Affairs and Somnath Ghosh, joint secretary (international cooperation) in the Ministry of Defence. The US delegation was led by assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific affairs, Dr. Ely Ratner, alongside principal deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs in the Department of State, Ervin Massinga.
Rao was supported by her colleagues Thelma John David, Chitrangna Singha, and a fourth female diplomat, Prerna Shahi (not seen in photo).
It is not the first time women have featured so prominently in US-India dialogues. Shortly before former US President Obama embarked on his visit to India in 2011, the gamut of US-India ties was handled by women, with Nirupama Rao as foreign secretary, Meera Shankar as the US ambassador in Washington, and Gaitri Kumar as joint secretary (America).
The fact that women constitute a powerful section of India’s governance, from the Congress President to some half-dozen chief ministers was a source of much admiration in the US, despite India’s generally dismal gender related metrics. More recent stories have highlighted the role of women in India’s space program.
The latest gender highlight comes amid global concern over the return of Taliban in Kabul and how they will treat Afghan women, who had more recently begun to emerge from the shadow of Islamist oppression in the country.
In their pronouncements so far, Taliban officials have said Afghan women will be allowed to attend university, but mixed gender classes will be banned. Women can also continue to work in government in Afghanistan but are not guaranteed cabinet or other senior positions, a Taliban spokesman said on Friday.
The new fundamentalist dispensation has also okayed the Afghanistan men’s team’s international cricket tours but there is no word on the female cricket team. Most members of the Afghan women’s team, formed in 2007, were reported to have been evacuated to Australia last week.
The striking gender balance photo also came amid global embarrassment for the US over new anti-abortion law in Texas that has engendered the term “Texas Taliban” for Republican lawmakers who engineered the legislation.


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