US Provides $43 Million in Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday announced $43 million in humanitarian aid to people in Afghanistan. The move comes after the barbaric rule of the Taliban military regime combined with severe drought and extreme temperatures caused hundreds of thousands of Afghan citizens to flee their homes. As many as 800,000 Afghans are thought to be displaced within Afghanistan and hundreds of thousands more have fled to Pakistan, only to find death and starvation in refugee camps. In his announcement, Powell stated explicity that the aid would be dispensed through the United Nations and NGOs, not through the Taliban.
Women have suffered disproportionately under the military rule of the Taliban. The Taliban has enforced a wide range of restrictive decrees against women, including banning them from school (in or out of the home) and forbidding them from leaving their homes without a close male relative. A recent survey by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) shows that 90% of Afghan women and men support the rights of women currently restricted by the Taliban regime
The Feminist Majority Foundation has been urging the increase of humanitarian assistance to Afghans, especially women and children, who are in peril for their lives. At the urging of the Feminist Majority, 13 U.S. Senators, led by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), recently sent a letter to Secretary of State Powell urging the provision of emergency assistance to help both internally displaced Afghans and Afghan refugees living in Pakistan.
The Feminist Majority is also working to develop legislation that would provide more funding for healh, education, and income generation for programs to help women and girls in Afghanistan and living as refugees in Pakistan. Caring individuals have already sent thousands of letters and e-mails through FMF's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan and Feminist.org (Send an E-Mail Now).
Media Resources: Washington Post, Nando Times, Physicians for Human Rights, 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. . . .