Amnesty International is staging a “Shadow Summit” this Sunday, May 20, in Chicago to emphasize to NATO Summit leaders that Afghan women’s and girls’ needs must be front and center in all planning. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky together with Afghan Women’s Leaders will speak at the Shadow Summit to bring women’s issues to the forefront of the NATO Summit. Speaking at the “Shadow Summit” will also be Afifa Azim, director and co-founder of the Afghan Women’s Network, Mahbouba Seraj, Executive Board Member of the Afghan Women’s Network; Manizha Naderi, Executive Director, Women for Afghan Women; and Gayle Lemmon of the Council on Foreign Relations and author, Dressmaker of Khair Khana.

Amnesty International will release an open letter to Presidents Obama and Karzai signed by U.S., Afghan, and British women leaders concerned that women’s rights, freedoms, and advancement during and after the transition process. According to Amnesty International “the letter calls for an eight-point plan to ensure that the progress Afghan women have made over the last decade to secure basic rights will not end with the troops’ departure in 2014.”

Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA, said “After the billions of dollars and thousands of lives given to the cause of a secure and peaceful Afghanistan, turning back the clock on women’s rights would be tragic.” Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, which has led a U.S. Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls for the past 15 years, commented, “Adequate funding from NATO countries is essential for security and Afghan women’s and girls’ educational, health care, and economic programs. Afghan women’s leaders must be represented in all the planning and decision-making.”

Media Resources: Amnesty International, Feminist Majority Foundation

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