Campaigners including Annie Lennox, Emma Thompson and Keira Knightley urge UK government to support women’s rights globally | ActionAid UK

Campaigners including Annie Lennox, Emma Thompson and Keira Knightley urge UK government to support women’s rights globally

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High-profile campaigners including Annie Lennox, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley and Thandie Newton have signed a public letter alongside UK charities calling on the new Secretary of State Priti Patel to prioritise the rights of women and girls and support the vital work of women’s rights organisations around the world.

Signed by a total of 40 public figures, aid agencies and women's rights’ organisations, the letter published by the Telegraph today [Friday 12th August 2016] urges the UK’s new Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, to recognise and invest in the important role of grassroots women’s rights organisations in achieving global gender equality.

It’s almost a year since the historic global goal on gender equality was agreed in New York as part of the Sustainable Development Goals and the letter makes the case for the need to step-up support for grassroots women organizations or risk seeing global commitments to women’s equality failing to materialise.

It highlights that, “One in three women will face violence in their lifetime, nearly two thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women, fewer than 4% of the world’s leading corporations have female CEOs and at current rates it will take 70 years to close the gender pay gap.”

Currently, just 1% of all global aid for gender equality goes to grassroots women’s rights organisations1.

The letter calls on the Secretary of State, in her new role to make real progress in the fight towards gender equality and, “stand with women and girls and make this a reality by supporting and investing in these vital grassroots organisations.”


Notes to editors

Full letter and list of signatories can be accessed here.

For more information please contact Cora Bauer on 0203 122 0767 or 07787897467 or at 


1. OECD - Aid in Support of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. ActionAid recognises that further funds may be made available to women’s rights organisations via multilateral or general civil society funds, however, it was not possible to determine the amount from the OECD-DAC database, the only globally comparable source of aid statistics.

For more information on the critical role of women’s rights groups in tackling violence against women: Fearless Women and Girls - leading the way, transforming lives