Women’s Rights are Non-Negotiable in Afghanistan

More than ten years after the overthrow of the Taliban, modest advances have been made for girls and women in Afghanistan, but much remains to be done. Peace talks between the Taliban, Afghan government and the U.S. jeopardize even these modest gains as the U.S. searches for a quick exit.

Amnesty International urges the U.S. government to adopt an action plan for Afghan women to ensure that their rights are not traded away in the transition. The U.S. should make clear that human rights are non-negotiable and ensure mechanisms are in place to uphold those rights after any agreement is reached.

Meryl Streep, Sting, Joan Baez, Cynthia Nixon, Yoko Ono and Sir Patrick Stewart signed their names to an Amnesty International open letter released Sunday to President Obama and President Karzai, calling on them to give women a voice in the conversation about Afghanistan’s future. The letter was released by Amnesty International as it staged a “Shadow Summit for Afghan Women” hours before the NATO Summit got underway in Chicago.

Joining the artists as signatories were authors, including Stephen King, Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner) and playwright Lynn Nottage (Ruined, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark).

Signatories included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, feminist Gloria Steinem, Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams and Shirin Ebadi, along with a roster of leading Afghan women’s rights advocates.

“The women of Afghanistan have come too far to see their rights vanish,” said Frank Januzzi, head of Amnesty International USA’s Washington office. “They must be part of the conversation about the future of Afghanistan or that future will look very bleak indeed. No one wants a return to the days when the Taliban banned women and girls from schools and work, and held them as virtual prisoners in their own country. This would be the ultimate catastrophe after a decade of gains for women. We hope the voices of these notable signatories will add to the pressure on Presidents Obama and Karzai to follow through on the promise of human rights for all women in Afghanistan.”

Amnesty International urged Presidents Obama and Karzai to adopt eight key steps to make sure Afghan woman can continue the progress they have made on rights and freedoms after the troops leave in 2014.

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