Keira Knightley, Joseph Fiennes, Salma Hayek, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Sheen were among the stars who wrote to David Cameron about women in Afghanistan on International Women’s Day earlier this month.

In their letter, Keira Knightley, Joseph Fiennes, Salma Hayek, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Sheen, Gillian Anderson, Grayson Perry, Dave Stewart and Adrian Lester said that while some progress has been made over women’s rights during the last 12 years, that progress is fragile.

Given that 2014 will be such a critical year for Afghanistan, with presidential elections, peace talks with the Taleban and the withdrawal of international troops taking place, provisions must be put in place now to protect Afghan women who are pressing for their rights and are often targeted as a result, they said.

The letter went on:
“It has taken true courage for Afghan women to defy the Taleban, to vote in elections, to work in high-profile jobs, and to send their children to school. But Afghan women have told Amnesty International that they are concerned the rights they have fought so hard to achieve could now be lost.

“In the last six months, numerous Afghan women committed to working for peace and development have been murdered, including four policewomen, a pregnant school teacher and a local government worker.

“We mustn’t turn our backs on the women and girls of Afghanistan. We ask that you publicly insist on renewed commitments to women’s rights from the new Afghan President when that person is elected.

“As Prime Minister your support sends a very clear message to the Afghan authorities as well as to the brave women working for the future of their country.”

The letter forms part of Amnesty International's campaign to protect the women of Afghanistan who are regularly targeted and attacked. More information at www.amnesty.org.uk/afghanistan.

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