WOMEN’S AID chief executive Katie Ghose has stepped down from the charity following backlash over her praise for UKIP.
Several black and minority ethnic women’s groups have expressed anger at Ghose’s comments that were made at the Ukip annual conference in September 2015.
At the time, Ghose was chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society.
Video footage circulated on social media shows Ghose praising Ukip’s “passion for a new way of doing politics,” and referring to Douglas Carswell as “an outstanding MP.”
Taking offence to Ghose’s remarks, the London Black Women’s Project wrote to Women’s Aid early this month asking the domestic abuse charity to remove Ghose from her post.
Several other groups also expressed anger at Ghose’s comments.
Amrit Wilson, former board member of Imkaan, a black, south Asian and minority ethnic women’s organisation committed to combating violence against women, said future appointments should be carefully vetted.
“I welcome it but Women’s Aid needs to question why this happened and make sure that future appointments are not only carefully vetted but given to people with substantial experience of the women’s sector,” Wilson was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
Aaliyah Davis of the group Sisters Uncut said it looked like Ghose was trying to garner support for Ukip.
“I and other members of Sisters Uncut feel she overstepped the mark saying that Ukip had been robbed and rightly there should be more Ukip MPs and it flies in the face of her position at Women’s Aid,” said Davis, adding that Ukip’s xenophobia and racism meant that Ghose’s behaviour was “shocking.”
Davis said: “She didn’t need to say these things. It’s surprising this didn’t come up in the recruitment process – it feels like feminism has taken a back seat.”
Announcing Ghose’s departure, Women’s Aid said she was leaving “by mutual agreement with the charity’s board.”
“Katie, as chief executive, has led Women’s Aid through a period of growth in our profile, impact and partnerships. She has achieved a huge amount in her time with us and brought her considerable leadership abilities to achieve influence in Whitehall and Westminster. The trustees thank her for her commitment, hard work and professionalism and wish her the best for the future.”
Meanwhile, many have come out in support of Ghose.
Taking to Twitter, Steven Woolfe, Member of European Parliament for North West England, wrote: “Utterly absurd that someone is forced to step down over what is minor praise. Another example of the totality of neo-liberal intolerance.”
Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, wrote: “Surprised by garbled story & outcome. Katie Ghose certainly not a Ukip supporter (she narrowly missed out Labour selections in 2015). Electoral Reform Society engaging with UKIP part of their non-partisan job.”