A deal has been struck between the provincial government and local officials and militants in a northern part of Pakistan known as the Swat Valley that will allow girls to return to school there.
In December, regional Taliban leader Mullah Shah Doran announced an education ban on women and girls in the Swat Valley. The directive set a deadline of January 15 for all girls, both in single-sex and co-educational schools, to be withdrawn. The Taliban threatened to bomb schools that ignored the directive and to severely punish violators. At the time, teacher Mohamed Osman told the Times of India that "we have no choice but to follow the orders. The government cannot give us protection. Taliban runs a parallel government in 90 percent of the area of the district and they execute everyone who opposes them."
In recent months, thousands have fled the Swat Valley, formerly a tourist destination. Shahnaz Kahn, a mother who fled the region, told Irin that "All the best teachers from my children's schools have left. I do not think they will go back…According to my relatives there, many children have gone back to schools but there are now too few teachers"
Enrollment of women and girls in schools and colleges in the Swat Valley region before the ban was only a quarter of what it was only three years ago, before the Taliban gained strength there, according to the The Australian. In the past year, more than 180 schools, many of which were all girl institutions, have been destroyed in the area. During the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which lasted until 2001, Afghan girls were forbidden to attend school.
Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 1/5/09, 2/19/09; The Australian 2/20/09; Times of India 1/4/09l; Irin 1/1/09, 3/4/09
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .