On May 4, at a dinner event in Los Angeles, the Feminist Majority Foundation gave its sixth annual Eleanor Roosevelt awards to three women and one man who have distinguished themselves in service of global women's rights.
The awardees were novelist/activist Khaled Hosseini, feminist and labor organizer Dolores Huerta, formerly imprisoned Iranian graduate student activist Esha Momeni and Ms. co-founder/feminist icon Gloria Steinem.
Afghanistan-born Hosseini, author of the bestselling books The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has illustrated through fiction the bitter reality of life for Afghan women under Taliban rule. He continues to fight for women's rights in his homeland and serves as a U.N. goodwill envoy for refugees.
Huerta has not just marched for decades on behalf of the rights of women and of all farmworkers in the U.S., but has extended her attention to the plight of immigrants and exploited women workers along the U.S.-Mexico border. She's given particular attention in recent years to the brutal killings of young women in Juarez, Mexico.
Momeni was arrested in Tehran in 2008 while there to videotape women activists for her master's thesis. She was held in the notorious Evin prison for nearly a month and kept in detention for almost a year; since her return to the U.S., she continues to speak out for women's rights in Iran.
And Steinem, known for her key role in the U.S. feminist movement since the early 1970s, has always been a powerful voice against global injustice to women, making sure that such issues as sex trafficking, "honor" killings, female genital cutting and international family planning stay high on the feminist agenda.
In a panel discussion following the presentation of the awards, each honoree assessed some of the crucial concerns of women in the world, from those of rural Afghan women - who Hosseini pointed out have an average life span of just 44 years - to those fearless Iranian women activists who come out of prison only to begin protesting again, to U.S. women fighting the draconian new Arizona immigration law. Asked by event host Katherine Spillar (executive vice president of the Feminist Majority and executive editor of Ms.) if she still maintains hope for these situations to improve, Steinem answered yes, but with her patented activist twist.
"Hope is a form of planning," she said.
Media Resources: Feminist Majority Foundation 5/5/10
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. . . .