Celebs urge world leaders to fight for gender equality

NEW YORK: A number of high-profile entertainers — including Oprah Winfrey, Mary J Blige, Charlize Theron and Meryl Streep — have signed an open letter calling on world leaders to fight for gender equality across the globe.

The letter released on March 6 states that some 62 million girls around the world are denied the right to education, 500 million women can’t read and 155 countries have laws that discriminate against women.

“Nowhere on earth do women have as many opportunities as men. Nowhere,” the letter states. “The fight for gender equality is global.”

Signers also include Tina Fey, Robert Redford, Shonda Rhimes, Ashley Judd, Amy Poehler, Colin Farrell, Danai Gurira, Connie Britton, Elton John, Patricia Arquette, Muhammed Ali, Sheryl Sandberg and Sean Parker. The push is organised by the ONE Campaign, co-founded by Irish rocker Bono to end extreme poverty and disease.

The letter comes a few days before International Women’s Day, which is on March 8. It calls on leaders to help girls and women fight HIV and malnutrition and support female economic empowerment. In 2015, Streep and singers Beyonce and Lady Gaga signed an open letter saying empowering women was the key to fighting the world’s inequalities and poverty.