After forcing the closure of the United Nations' "widows' bakeries" in the Afghanistan capital city of Kabul and thrusting thousands of Afghan women and their families into poverty and starvation, the Taliban militia has withdrawn the order. The Taliban initially shut down the U.N. subsidized bakeries because the militia has banned women from employment outside the home, including working with any U.N. agency or other aid organization. Outrage in Afghanistan and internationally forced the Taliban to reverse the decree. In response to the Taliban's reversal, a spokesperson for the U.N. World Food Program said, "We welcome this decision and we hope the ban on women's employment would be fully rescinded."
Taliban rulers have created "the world's worst human rights situation," said Sehar Saba, spokeswoman for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan when speaking to the U.N. Subcommission on Human Rights in Geneva. Saba urged the United Nations to send peacekeeping forces to the war-torn country and impose sanctions on countries that recognize or aid the Taliban. Currently Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates do identify the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
Because the Taliban is not recognized internationally as the country's official government, their plea to participate in the 2000 Sidney Olympic Games has been denied by the International Olympic Committee. The Taliban has suggested that the IOC is discriminating against them because they do not allow women to participate in sports and would not send female athletes to the Games.
Media Resources: Reuters; BBC; AP - August 18, 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. . . .