May 21, 2018

Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep and other stars tell world leaders to act now on girls' education

Among those who signed the letter are (clockwise from top left) Oprah Winfrey, Lena Dunham, Chadwick Boseman, Meryl Streep, Thandie Newton and Natalie Portman

They are among 140 celebrities and leading figures who are calling for "historic changes" this year on gender inequality.

Dozens of celebrities have sent a resounding message to world leaders that it's time to tackle gender inequality and get every girl into school.

Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep, Thandie Newton, Natalie Portman, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer and Chadwick Boseman are among the film and TV stars who signed an open letter which says "we're putting you on notice" and demands urgent action.

It calls for "historic changes" for girls and women this year and adds: "We will push you for commitments and hold you to account for them."

The open letter from 140 celebrities and influential figures tells world leaders there are 130 million girls out of school and 39,000 girls who become child brides every day - depriving them of their education and a bright future.

Other actors who have signed include Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Letitia Wright, Natalie Dormer, Ryan Reynolds, Robin Wright and Issa Rae.

16-year-old Tinalbarka dreams of becoming a lawyer but her education was disrupted when her family sought refuge from conflict in Northern Mali

Photo credit: UNHCR / Aaron Dragaj

The list also features Mozambican politician Graça Machel, former Nigerian minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, Chelsea Clinton, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Theirworld President Sarah Brown.

The letter, posted by the ONE Campaign, reads:

"Dear World Leaders, we're putting you on notice.

"For 130 million girls without an education. For one billion women without access to a bank account. For 39,000 girls who became child brides today. For women everywhere paid less than a man for the same work.

"There is nowhere on earth where women have the same opportunities as men, but the gender gap is wider for women living in poverty.

"Poverty is sexist. And we won't stand by while the poorest women are overlooked.

"You have the power to deliver historic changes for women this year. From the G7 to the G20; from the African Union to your annual budgets; we will push you for commitments and hold you to account for them. And, if you deliver, we will be the first to champion your progress.

"We won't stop until there is justice for women and girls everywhere. Because none of us are equal until all of us are equal."

Romilly Greenhill, UK director of the ONE Campaign, said girls' education is "essential" if poverty is to be eradicated.

She added: "Until we're able to break down the barriers holding girls and women back on a global level, extreme poverty and gender inequality will continue to exist."

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