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Open letter from members of the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council

​​We, members of the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council, would like to express our solidarity with the women and girls of Afghanistan and we welcome the joint statement from G7 Leaders along with the Secretary Generals of the United Nations and NATO that the rights of women must be respected. We further welcome Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s strong statements on girls’ education. 

Around 3.5 million girls are currently in school in Afghanistan and around a third of university students are women. If girls are not in school they are more at risk of abuse, including child marriage, female genital mutilation, child labour and domestic violence. Without education their horizons are limited, their choices diminished, their futures constrained. We call on G7 Leaders to reaffirm that the education of girls is at the core of their shared values and the foundation of progress. We ask them to take steps to ensure that the vital education of girls in Afghanistan is not disrupted and that schools and universities remain accessible and safe to girls and women. 

The GEAC made several recommendations to G7 Leaders ahead of the G7 Summit in June, focused on girls’ education, women’s empowerment and ending violence against women and girls. We call on G7 Leaders to take forward relevant GEAC recommendations with regards to the humanitarian response in Afghanistan - not only prioritising financing and support for girls' education, but also tackling gender-based violence and sexual violence, protecting access to sexual and reproductive health services, and promoting women's labour market participation.

We are concerned about the risks facing women who have been involved in public affairs, education, journalism, peacebuilding, economic activities, the security sector and civil society organisations, and urge the international community to offer their support and protection.

The situation in Afghanistan is a powerful reminder of the need to champion the rights of women and girls to live, work and study freely and safely. The core principle of the GEAC is that, as a matter of course, foreign policy should address women’s rights, needs and voices. The voices of the women and girls of Afghanistan need to be heard, now more than ever. 

Signed by:

Sarah Sands (Chair), former editor of the Evening Standard and BBC R4’s Today programme

Alice P. Albright, CEO of the Global Partnership for Education

Hon Julie Bishop, Former Foreign Minister for Australia

Prof. Iris Bohnet, Professor of Public Policy and co-director, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard University

Ursula M. Burns, former CEO of Xerox and leader of the White House STEM programme

Dr (H.C.) Ritu Karidhal, Deputy Operations Director to India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, Mangalyaan

Bogolo J. Kenewendo, Economist and former Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry in Botswana

Prof. Reiko Kuroda, Professor of Chemistry & Biology at Chubu University and winner of the L’Oreal-UNESCO award for Women in Science

Dr Dambisa Moyo, Global economist and co-principal of Versaca Investments

Dr Denis Mukwege, gynaecologist, human rights activist and Nobel Peace laureate

Marie-Christine Saragosse, President and CEO of France Médias Monde

Emma Sinclair MBE, Tech entrepreneur and CoFounder of EnterpriseAlumni

Dr Aldijana Šišić, Chief of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Women)

Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England

Jessica Woodroffe, W7 Co-Chair and Director of Gender and Development Network