Amnesty International to Bring Afghan Women's Voices to the Forefront of NATO Summit During May 20 "Shadow Summit" in Chicago; Press Conference to Release Open Letter to Presidents Obama and Karzai

Press Release
May 17, 2012

Amnesty International to Bring Afghan Women's Voices to the Forefront of NATO Summit During May 20 "Shadow Summit" in Chicago; Press Conference to Release Open Letter to Presidents Obama and Karzai

U.S. Ambassador on Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer to Give Opening Remarks; Followed by Panel Discussion: “The Conversation NATO Should Have About Afghan Women’s Rights"

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

(Chicago) – Ambassador Melanne Verveer, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, will be among the speakers as Amnesty International stages a “Shadow Summit” with Afghan women -- hours before the NATO Summit opens this Sunday, May 20 – to underscore concerns that NATO leaders are ignoring Afghan women and their tenuous grasp on rights and freedoms while planning the military exit strategy from Afghanistan. Noted women’s rights leaders from Afghanistan will participate.

At 10:30 a.m., at a press conference at the Swissotel in downtown Chicago, Amnesty International Washington D.C. director Frank Jannuzi will join prominent Afghan women's rights advocates and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky to release an open letter to Presidents Karzai and Obama. The letter, signed by notable U.S., Afghan and British figures, calls for an eight-point plan to protect Afghan women.

At 11 a.m., immediately following the press conference, Ambassador Verveer; Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, a champion of women’s rights, and Hasina Safi, Director of the Afghanistan Women's Educational Centre:, will give opening remarks.

At 11:30 a.m., a panel discussion titled “The Conversation NATO Should Have About Afghan Women's Rights” will begin with women’s rights champions from Afghanistan, including Mahbouba Seraj, executive board member of the Afghan Women’s Network; Afifa Azim, director and co-founder of the Afghan Women’s Network and Manizha Naderi, executive director of Women for Afghan Women. Panelists also include Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, author of the best-selling book, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, and deputy director of the Council on Foreign Relation's Women and Foreign Policy program, and Mr. Jannuzi.

Jerome McDonell, host of “Worldview” on Chicago Public Radio will moderate the discussion.

Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA, said: “After the billions of dollars and thousands of lives given to the cause of a secure and peaceful Afghanistan, turning back the clock on women's rights would be tragic. Afghan women understandably fear that a return to the dark days of Taliban control over their lives will set back their rights, undermine Afghanistan's stability and prosperity over the long term, and erode the legacy of the last decade of U.S. and NATO engagement in that country.”

At 1 p.m., following the Shadow Summit, Amnesty International activists will participate in a mass kite-flying demonstration at Navy Pier. Through the end of the day Friday, people around the world can add messages to appear on the kites that will be flown in Chicago by taking action for Afghan women’s rights.

This event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is strongly recommended. To register and for more information, including a detailed schedule of the day's events, visit: www.amnestyusa.org/afghanwomen.

What: Amnesty International USA 2012 NATO "Shadow Summit for Afghan Women’s Rights"
Where: Swissotel, Lucerne Ballroom, 323 East Wacker Drive, Chicago
When: Sunday, May 20 (First day of NATO Summit)
Time: 10:30 a.m. press conference; Summit: 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. (Registration and light brunch begin at 10 a.m.)

Facebook: "https://www.facebook.com/events/138156659641712/"
Tweet for Afghan women: #Chicago2012 and #NatoSummit

Schedule:

10AM - 11AM: Registration and Light Brunch

11AM - 11:30AM: Opening Remarks
• Debra Erenberg, regional director, Amnesty International USA
• Hasina Safi, director, Afghanistan Women's Educational Centre
• Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, U.S. House of Representatives
• Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues

1130AM - 12:45PM: Panel Discussion: “The Conversation NATO Should Have About Afghan Women's Rights”
Panelists:
• Afifa Azim, general director and co-founder, Afghan Women’s Network
• Frank Jannuzi, head of Washington Office, Amnesty International USA
• Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana and deputy director of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Women and Foreign Policy program
• Manizha Naderi, executive director, Women for Afghan Women
• Mahbouba Seraj, founder and director of Soraya Marshal Consulting and executive board member of Afghan Women’s Network

Moderator: Jerome McDonell, host of “Worldview,” Chicago Public Radio

1PM - 2 PM: “Fly a Kite for Women's Rights” Navy Pier

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.