Today is International Women’s Day (8 March). To highlight this day, our coverage in Grazia has been fairly extensive, from the horrific figures of FGM in Egypt (91% of women have been forced to undergo this mutilation) to the number of women raped in South Africa – here, women are three times more liked to be sexually assaulted than receive an education.
To mark the day, Amnesty UK are calling on David Cameron to highlight anti-education extremists in Afghanistan, urging him to ensure women’s rights in Afghanistan are protected.
In a bid to highlight the cause, celebrities including Keira Knightley, Salma Hayek, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Sheen, Gillian Anderson and artist Grayson Perry have all written to Cameron to explain that while some progress has been made over women’s rights during the last 12 years, that progress is fragile.
Since 2001 there have been significant improvements for women and girls in Afghanistan, with new anti-violence laws passed, some 2.4 million girls now enrolled in schools, and women taking an active role in public life (including as MPs, with 27% of MPs in the Afghan parliament women). However there has also been a very large recent upsurge in targeted killings of prominent Afghan women by the Taleban and other armed groups, and schools and schoolteachers - especially girls’ schools - have suffered attacks by anti-education extremists.
2014 is a big year for Afghanistan. It will see presidential elections and the withdrawal of international troops. As such, Amnesty are appealing to the PM to ensure provisions are put in place now to protect Afghan women who are pressing for their rights and are often targeted as a result.
The letter forms part of Amnesty’s campaign to protect the women of Afghanistan who are regularly targeted and attacked. More information at www.amnesty.org.uk/afghanistan