In October 2010 Rushanara was selected to the Labour frontbench as Shadow Minister for International Development. As part of this role she was the Labour spokesperson on international development matters for Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, International Finance and Trade Wealth Creation and the Private Sector, Gender, Climate Change, Conflict and stabilisation, and the Middle East Peace Process. Rushanara held this position for three years until October 2013.
The Labour Party has a long and proud history as both global and national leaders in international development. The last Labour government established the Department for International Development to ensure that development funding was spent effectively on helping some of the world’s poorest people, untied aid from defence and trade agendas and led the world in promising to increase aid funding to 0.7% of GNI.
As Shadow Minister for International Development, Rushanara led a number of important campaigns. In 2013, Rushanara launched the Save Remittance Giving Campaign calling on the government to take immediate action to safeguard remittance giving to developing countries worth £15bn. The campaign was backed by Olympic Gold medallist, Mo Farah, and gained the support of over 120,000 petitioners. Since its launch, the government set up the Action Group on Cross Border Remittance as well as initiating a community engagement strategy.
As Shadow Minister for International Development, Rushanara also visited many countries around the world to investigate how the Labour Party should be responding to some of the most pressing development issues.
Rushanara visited Bangladesh with Care International in 2011 where she witnessed first-hand the extent of the damage caused by global warming for Bangladeshis living in remote areas. Rushanara called on delegates meeting in Durban later that year for the Climate Change Conference to highlight the impact of climate change on Bangladesh and to ensure progress is made and support is provided to those living in disaster prone areas. Rushanara also visited educational projects empowering women working in the garments industry.
Rushanara later visited Bangladesh in 2013 alongside members from the APPG on Bangladesh following the devastating Rana Plaza disaster in April 2013. Following the APPG's visit, a report was released on the garments industry in Bangladesh. The report called on the Bangladesh Government to invest more in the industry and to tackle labor rights abuses. Rushanara has since continued to campaign for garments worker's rights and has joined forces with the likes of Katharine Hamnett to continue to push the agenda for better working conditions.
In 2013, following the violence that erupted between Muslim and Buddhist communities in Rakhine State in June and October 2012, Rushanara visited Rakhine State in Myanmar (Burma) with Refugees International where she visited Rohingya, Kaman and Rakhine camps and met with NGOs, UN agencies and Rohingya activists. Rushanara has since continued to raise the issue in Parliament.
Following the devastating Horn of Africa drought in 2011, Rushanara visited East Africa with Islamic Relief to witness first-hand the ongoing struggles faced by pastoralist communities and East Africans.
In 2013, Rushanara visited Lebanon with international children's charity, World Vision, following the outbreak of civil war in Syria. Rushanara witnessed life for the huge influx of millions of Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanese host communities.
Rushanara has been committed to the cause for recognition of Palestinian Statehood. She visited the West Bank in 2011 with a cross-party delegation of MPs. The visit allowed Rushanara to see firsthand the situation in the West Bank, including discussions with local Palestinian campaigners opposing the Israeli security wall and new settlements as well as visiting Jericho and the Jordan Valley. Rushanara has since continued to campaign for an end to the occupation and a long-lasting peace with a two-state solution. Rushanara voted for the non-binding motion to recognise Palestine in Parliament in October 2014.
- Read Rushanara's article in the Guardian about the power of money transfer agents for those struggling in countries such as Somalia and Bangladesh
- Read Rushanara's article in the Guardian about her visit to Burma and her time meeting Rohingya Muslims in internally displaced person camps in Rakhine
- Watch Rushanara participate in a discussion on BBC News on the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Burma
- Watch a video created by Islamic Relief of Rushanara's trip to East Africa
- Watch a video created by World Vision UK of Rushanara's trip to Lebanon
- Watch Rushanara participate in a debate hosted by the Overseas Development Institute on the impact of remittances to Africa