Humanitarian Crisis for Afghan Women and Children Worsens
Before September 11th, the plight of hundreds of thousands of Afghan women and girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan was deplorable. Suffering from the draconian measures of the Taliban regime, millions of Afghans fled, and hundreds of thousands were at the borders trying to flee. More than 3 million refugees are in Pakistan without sufficient food, clothing, health care, or shelter. More than 600,000 in 2001 alone have fled because the worst drought in more than 30 years has created desperate conditions. This holocaust-like tragedy is now only getting worse. All foreign humanitarian aid workers have evacuated Afghanistan since September 11th and hundreds of thousands of Afghans are fleeing Kabul, Kandahar, and other population centers, fearing an American counterattack.
For years, the Feminist Majority Foundation has been urging an increase in humanitarian aid. In May 2001, partially because of our pressure, the U.S. announced an emergency humanitarian aid package for Afghanistan totaling $43 million. This aid did not go to the Taliban but to international agencies, such as the International Red Cross and the U.N. World Food Program (mostly in the form of food), to distribute to those in desperate need. In July, the State Department agreed to provide an additional $6.5 million to alleviate the suffering in neighboring countries. This would bring the total to $132 million in 2001, making the U.S. the largest provider of emergency assistance to Afghnistan but far short of what is needed to end further suffering and starvation.
The first casualties of the terrorist Taliban regime have been Afghan women and children. In our need to stop terrorism we cannot forget them.
“The end of terrorism in South Asia and the Middle East will only come about with the installation of constitutional democracies, the restoration of destroyed economies, and the restoration of women’s rightful place in society,” says Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “The feminist work to advert the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children is critical. We must stop terrorism and save lives here and in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the impact of the Taliban has been ghastly for years.”
Media Resources: UN World Food Program, LA Times 9/17/01
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. . . .