Charlotte Street Partners



A life defined by men with guns

Written by Katie Armour, senior associate
Edited by Kevin Pringle, partner

18 August 2021

Good morning,

I’ve spent the last few days glued to the BBC and the horrors coming out of Afghanistan.

It’s hard to focus on anything else when something so monumental unfolds in front of you.

There are many painful elements to this story, many we may not yet even understand, but I want to focus on the impact on Afghan women.

Last night a Taliban spokesperson told reporters that women would be allowed to be educated up to university level.

While it’s a marked change of tone, it’s still devastating. These are the men famed for acid attacks on school girls and shooting 15 year-old children who have books hidden under their skirts. They have bestowed upon themselves the power to limit ambition, paint over public female faces and set the parameters on what industries women can work in, if at all.

The eerie videos that have emerged over recent days, most searingly of the stampedes on the tarmac of Kabul airport, have been mostly of desperate men fleeing for their lives. But it’s Afghanistan’s women, left behind, that face a complete and agonising overhaul to their way of life.

In a piece for the New York Times yesterday titled, I fear for my Afghan sisters, Malala wrote that “after graduating from college last year and starting to carve out my own career path, I cannot imagine losing it all — going back to a life defined for me by men with guns.”

Her worries chime with Guardian reports that women raced to hide their diplomas and degrees as the Taliban took over, forced to be scared of something that should prompt such pride.

On the eve of the British parliament being recalled to debate the state of the UK and US withdrawal from the country, prime minister Boris Johnson released initial details of his offering to the Afghan people in recognition of the “debt of gratitude” the UK owes them.

He announced that a new Afghanistan citizens’ resettlement scheme, modelled on David Cameron’s Syrian response plans, would see Britain welcome 20,000 Afghan refugees. But on closer inspection you’ll find this programme is set to stretch seven years and the number of people welcome in year one is capped at 5,000. Even with the prioritisation of women that has been promised, that’s 5,000 in a population of 38 million. It’s miserably inadequate.

Today Boris Johnson will have to present his justification to the country in what will, undoubtedly, be a landmark debate. He’ll face questions on support for Biden, possible inquiries and emerging terrorism threats. But ultimately he’ll have to speak to the kind of legacy the west wants to leave.

Dominic Raab told Good Morning Britain that the UK is a “big hearted” nation and now’s the time to show it. This isn’t just a question of evacuation for life or death. It’s also about people’s need to escape for hope and opportunity.

Britain and America have let Afghans down. Three western male leaders, on varying degrees of holidays, have made decisions that will shape the lives of millions of women and girls for decades to come.

We should be throwing open the borders to those who want to work and learn free of this hostile and frightening environment. We’d be lucky to have them.


New statistics have revealed that 1,190 died from alcohol misuse in Scotland in 2020. The level of alcohol specific deaths is at its highest since 2008 and commentators are speculating that the pandemic has undermined the progress made by minimum unit pricing for alcohol.

The death toll following Saturday’s severe earthquake in Haiti has reached almost 2,000 and an additional 10,000 people are reported to be injured after the 7.2 magnitude tremor. The UN has stated half a million children have now got only limited access to shelter safe water and food.

A US science institute is “on the verge” of surpassing a longstanding goal in nuclear fusion research. The process is call inertial confinement fusion and if the experiment proves successful could provide a “limitless clean energy source”.

Business and economy

Mastercard has announced its intention to stop issuing cards with a magnetic strip and claims to be the first payment network to phase out the technology. By 2033 none of its debit or credit cards will have a strip. In 2006, the UK moved to chip and pin for cards payments but in much of the US the magnetic strip systems are still in use. 

ExxonMobil is facing criticism for its significant new project in Guyana as experts argue the company has “failed to adequately prepare” for a possible disaster. The company expects to be extracting upwards of 800,000 barrels of oil a day from the area six miles off the coast by 2025.

Mining company BHP has announced it will “unify its dual-corporate structure” and shift its primary stock market listing to Australia. The change was announced alongside plans to exit the oil and gas sector by selling its petroleum branch in exchange for shares, which will be distributed among investors. Chief executive Mike Henry is keen to focus BHP’s work on metals and green commodities. (£)

Columns of note

In the aftermath of the Plymouth shooting, Laura Bates writes in The Guardian that the incel movement is a form of extremism and “it cannot be ignored any longer”. She catalogues violent attacks around the world and says the violent ideology is spreading with “tragic real-world results”.

Daniel Finkelstein writes in The Times today arguing that the world “needs a policeman” or faces more chaos, suggesting that if the west has decided it “no longer has the stomach for overseas interventions”, it’s dictators and thugs that will benefit. He suggests that Britain will have to match “the level of our resources and our commitment to our concern” and warns against offering Afghan women false solidarity. (£)

Cartoon source: The Times


What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in a mixed state on Tuesday, as investors mulled over the latest UK jobs data.

The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.38% at 7,181.11, while the FTSE 250 was down 0.08% at 23,693.53.

Sterling was weaker, trading 0.78% lower against the dollar at $1.37 and 0.19% lower against the euro, changing hands at €1.17.

In company news:

Genuit, a water pipe and ventilation firm, racked up impressive gains of 4.07% after boosting its portfolio with acquisitions and reporting higher interim profits.

Travel shares slipped as investors showed concern about the spread of the delta variant. The owner of Premier Inn, Whitbread, lost 2.45%, British Airways parent company IAG dropped 3.19% and InterContinental Hotels closed the day 1.9% weaker.

What’s happening today?

Balfour Beatty

Asimilar Group
Simec Atlantis


Final Dividend Payment Date   
Anglo Pacific
National Grid

Interim Dividend Payment Date  

Invesco Bd In

Quarterly Payment Date  
M Winkworth

Special Dividend Payment Date  

M Winkworth

UK Economic Announcements    
(07:00) Retail Price Index
(07:00) Producer Price Index

International Economic Announcements   
(07:00) Consumer Price Index

Source: Financial Times

did you know

A snail can sleep for three years (Source: Sporcle)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess but has reconvened today to allow a debate on the situation in Afghanistan. The House will next sit on 6 September 2021.

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess but has reconvened today to allow a debate on the situation in Afghanistan. The House will next sit on 6 September 2021.

Scottish parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess until 30 August.

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