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Poverty is sexist says world’s leading stars

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An open letter marking International Women's Day demands governments address gender inequality

An open letter penned by the world’s best known celebrities has urged world leaders to tackle gender inequality to mark International Women’s Day.

U2 singer Bono, boxer Muhammad Ali, actress Charlize Theron and Sir Elton John are among more than 70 celebrities who are proclaiming “poverty is sexist” in a bid to address world gender inequality.

The letterstates that some 155 countries have laws which discriminate against women.

It points out that across the world some 63 million girls are denied access to education and half a billion women cannot read.

The letter said: “Nowhere on Earth do women have as many opportunities as men. Nowhere.

“While the debate around this truth rages everywhere, girls and women living in extreme poverty – those often hardest hit by the injustice of gender inequality – have been left out of the conversation.

Nowhere on Earth do women have as many opportunities as men. Nowhere.

“This must change. The fight for gender equity is global.”

The One Campaign, co-founded by Bono, said Niger in west Africa had come out top in the rankings of the “toughest” countries in which to be born a girl.

Its analysis, in a report called Poverty Is Sexist, said girls in the country have fewer education and economic opportunities, including being unable to open a bank account.

Diane Sheard, UK director of the ONE Campaign, said: “The British government have been at the forefront of efforts to put girls and women at the heart of international development and they should seize the opportunities of this year’s major summits to cement this record.

“As hosts of the first Nutrition For Growth summit and major historical contributors to the Global Fund, now is not the time for the UK to take a back seat.”

The 20 toughest countries in which to be born a girl

  1. Niger
  2. Somalia
  3. Mali
  4. Central African Republic
  5. Yemen
  6. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  7. Afghanistan
  8. Côte d’Ivoire
  9. Chad
  10. Comoros
  11. Pakistan
  12. Liberia
  13. Guinea
  14. Burkina Faso
  15. Benin
  16. Sierra Leone
  17. The Gambia
  18. Haiti
  19. Djibouti
  20. Mauritania