Smeal Testifies on Behalf of Afghan Women – Urges Aid, Restoration of Rights, and Democracy
Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority and the Feminist Majority Foundation, testified before the U.S. Senate at a joint hearing of the Subcommittee on International Organizations and Terrorism and the Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asia Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Relations. Smeal called for a significant increase in humanitarian aid for the Afghan people, the restoration of Afghan women’s rights, and the establishment of a constitutional democracy in post-Taliban Afghanistan.
During the hearing, Smeal noted that women are estimated to be 60-70 percent of the adult population of Afghanistan, and that before the Taliban takeover, women were over 70 percent of the teachers, 40 percent of doctors, the vast majority of health care workers, and over half of the university students. Despite Taliban edicts, women have risked their lives to run home schools and health clinics in Afghanistan and in refugee areas where Taliban soldiers roam.
If civil society is to be rebuilt in Afghanistan and the rogue state that has been sustained by drug trafficking is to be brought to an end, all citizens – especially those in the healthcare and education fields – must be utilized,” said Smeal. “The employment of these workers – who are mostly women – is essential to the rebuilding of the country’s social infrastructure and civilization itself. The restoration of the rights of women is crucial both for the sake of human rights and to make possible the return to civil society.”
Smeal also addressed the continuing humanitarian crisis in the region. Before September 11, over 5 million Afghan refugees, seventy-five percent of which are women and children, had fled to neighboring countries and millions more were internally displaced without adequate resources to survive. Conditions in the refugee areas for these women, however, are not much better than in Afghanistan. “It is a near holocaust situation,” said Smeal. “The conditions in which these refugees fight for survival are horrific with little food, with many families having no more than plastic sheets for shelter, and with virtually no sanitation. These conditions have resulted in widespread disease, death, and regional instability.” The United Nations estimates that the total number of Afghans needing humanitarian assistance will soon reach at least 7.5 million. Smeal urged that more humanitarian aid is needed to alleviate the current crisis, encourage deflection from the Taliban, and ensure the democratic reconstruction of Afghanistan.
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10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
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The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .