Amnesty International is staging a "Shadow Summit" this Sunday, May 20, in Chicago to emphasize to NATO Summit leaders that Afghan women's and girls' needs must be front and center in all planning. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky together with Afghan Women's Leaders will speak at the Shadow Summit to bring women's issues to the forefront of the NATO Summit. Speaking at the "Shadow Summit" will also be Afifa Azim, director and co-founder of the Afghan Women's Network, Mahbouba Seraj, Executive Board Member of the Afghan Women's Network; Manizha Naderi, Executive Director, Women for Afghan Women; and Gayle Lemmon of the Council on Foreign Relations and author, Dressmaker of Khair Khana.
Amnesty International will release an open letter to Presidents Obama and Karzai signed by U.S., Afghan, and British women leaders concerned that women's rights, freedoms, and advancement during and after the transition process. According to Amnesty International "the letter calls for an eight-point plan to ensure that the progress Afghan women have made over the last decade to secure basic rights will not end with the troops' departure in 2014."
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." Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, which has led a U.S. Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls for the past 15 years, commented, "Adequate funding from NATO countries is essential for security and Afghan women's and girls' educational, health care, and economic programs. Afghan women's leaders must be represented in all the planning and decision-making."
Media Resources: Amnesty International, Feminist Majority Foundation
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. . . .