Smeal and Leno Unveil Back to School Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Mavis Leno, chair of the Foundation's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan unveiled a Back to School Campaign - a new initiative to raise public awareness of the brutal treatment of women and girls under the Taliban, which has banned them from attending schools, working or leaving their homes unaccompanied by a close male relative. The Back to School Campaign includes an Adopt-A-School Project, an Afghan Women's Scholarship Program, and a petition drive urging the U.S. government to do more to help Afghan women and girls.
"As women and girls return to schools throughout the United States, Afghan women and girls are not allowed to go to school. Through our Adopt-A-School Project, the Back to School Campaign will make a human connection between girls and boys in the United States and Afghan girls, between U.S. teachers and Afghan teachers, and between Americans who care and the Afghan women and girls who are suffering because of the Taliban's brutal regime," said Smeal. "We want to help the heroic women who are running home-based schools for girls in Afghanistan, and schools in Pakistan for Afghan refugees" added Smeal.
"Here are some of the donations that people can make: $20 will pay for a classroom chalkboard. $36 would be a teacher's salary for a month," explained Leno. "It's also no small thing to let your child know that they can stand up for human decency and human rights, that they can make a real difference in the life of other people in this world," added Leno.
The American public response to the Feminist Majority Foundation's Campaign To Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan has been very encouraging. "We have been told by the State Department that our letter-writing campaign thus far has produced more mail than any other single foreign policy issue," said Smeal. The campaign is delivering some 211,000 petitions to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and President Clinton, urging them to increase humanitarian aid and assistance to the women and girls of Afghanistan.
Frayba Wakili, the first Afghan Scholarship Program recipient who will start college this fall in Maryland, shared her courageous story with reporters. "Imagine being a teacher in a country where it is a crime to teach girls how to count. Imagine living in a country where a child could be killed for learning the alphabet or opening a book. This is what's happening in Afghanistan every day," said Wakili, as tears streamed down her face. "I am one of the fortunate ones, but I can't forget all the girls and women at home who are not as lucky as me," added Wakili.
Learn more about FMF's Back to School Campaign and get involved in the fight to end gender apartheid in Afghanistan.
Media Resources: Back to School Press Conference, August 24, 2000
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. . . .