UN Women UK distances itself from student group after Amber Rudd ‘no platformed’

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A UN women’s group has distanced itself from a row that saw former Home Secretary Amber Rudd “no-platformed” at an Oxford University event.

Ms Rudd was due to speak at the UN Women Oxford function for International Women’s Day, but was blocked after the student society voted to cancel it.

Now, UN Women UK has suspended the society’s permission to use its name and asked for it to make no further association with the group.

Ms Rudd was stopped from speaking after some students claimed her immigration policies had marginalised minority groups, citing the Government’s treatment of the Windrush generation as an example.

UN Women UK said it asked its contact at the society not to proceed with Ms Rudd’s invitation to speak due to “concerned comments” from students and possible risks raised on the society’s Facebook page.

In a statement, UN Women UK, which campaigns for gender equality, said: “We understand that regretfully the invitation went ahead and Ms Rudd was ‘no-platformed’.

“Due to non-compliance around our brand naming which has caused confusion, as well as the communication around this event, we have suspended any permission for the society to use our name and asked for no further association to be made with us.”

Ms Rudd, who also served as minister for women and equalities, tweeted earlier: “Badly judged & rude of some students last night at Oxford to decide to ‘no platform’ me 30 mins before an event I had been invited to for #IWD2020 to encourage young women into politics. They should stop hiding and start engaging.”

UN Women Oxford has now changed its name to United Women Oxford Student Society.

Under its former name, the society posted on Facebook: “Following a majority vote in committee, tonight’s event with speaker Amber Rudd has been cancelled.

“We are deeply sorry for all and any hurt caused to our members and other wom*n and non binary people in Oxford over this event.”

The group had invited Ms Rudd to speak about her experience of being a woman in Parliament, while also promising an “honest and frank discussion” about the impact of her policies.

Oxford University said it “strongly disapproves” of UN Women Oxford’s actions, adding that it would be “making the University’s position and feelings very clear to the event organisers and taking necessary steps to ensure that this cannot be repeated”.

A spokesman added: “Amber Rudd had stated that she was prepared to discuss issues arising from her time in the Home Office and she should have been given the opportunity to do so.

“The University is strongly committed to freedom of speech and opposes no-platforming. We encourage our students to debate and engage with a range of views, and to treat others with the courtesy and dignity that they would expect themselves.”

A number of current and former MPs also came to Ms Rudd’s defence after the incident.

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