Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep

AN SIR Patrick Stewart, Cynthia Nixon and Meryl Streep are among the stars backing an open letter urging U.S. President Barack Obama to support women's rights in Afghanistan.

We urge you to adopt a comprehensive action plan to guarantee that the clock is not turned back on a decade of strides in education, health, security and employment for women

The note from Amnesty International calls for Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai to make sure the rights of females in the war-torn countryare not affected when international troops pull out.

Yoko Ono, Joan Baez and Sting are also backing the call, and the letterreads, "As champions of women's rights who are dedicated to protecting women's human rights, we are deeply concerned that the significant gains made by women and girls in Afghanistan may be threatened as U.S. and allied troops leave the country.

"We urge you to adopt a comprehensive action plan to guarantee that the clock is not turned back on a decade of strides in education, health, security and employment for women and girls. At stake is the future of Afghanistan, after billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives have been sacrificed. We believe if women's progress cannot be sustained, then Afghan society will fail.

"We are concerned that the U.S. and allied withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 may put women and girls at even greater risk of abuses... Women must be empowered in the educational, economic and political life of Afghanistan or the country will fail to achieve a stable and prosperous futureafter a decade of effort to secure and rebuild the country.

"Presidents Obama and Karzai, this is the defining moment to lead on women's human rights. Afghan women have never faced greater danger to the protection and advancement of their human rights; they need and deserve your support.

"We urge you to affirm that the Afghan and U.S. governments will protect Afghan women. Their human rights, their safety, their very lives must not be sacrificed as U.S. Armed Forces withdraw from the country".