Afghans Meet in Pakistan to Discuss Post-Taliban Future
The Assembly for Peace and National Unity in Afghanistan met today in Peshawar, Pakistan to discuss future leadership of a new Afghan government once U.S.-led strikes end. Organizers reported that representatives and leaders from all thirty-two Afghan provinces attended the meeting, which will continue into tomorrow and will possibly end in a call for a loya jirga, or a grand assembly. The loya jirga will then begin to outline the new government officially. The Taliban has heavily criticized this initial meeting, and according to MSNBC, has declared it an act of treason. Attendees, however, noted that members of the Taliban were at the meeting, and while some condemned the Taliban’s involvement in Afghanistan, others seemed supportive. Haji Atta Mohammed, an attendee from Kandahar, hoped that the Taliban would respond positively to the meeting, saying, “The Taliban are our brothers.” More meetings on a future Afghan government are planned. Turkey has announced that it will host a meeting next week with Taliban opposition groups although the specifics of the meeting are still unclear.
It is unclear whether any Afghan women were in attendance at this initial meeting. The Feminist Majority leads a major campaign aimed at restoring the rights of Afghan women, assuring that women have a role in the reconstruction process, and re-establishing a constitutional democracy in Afghanistan in which women have equal rights. Since the Taliban regime’s rise to power, women have been barred from working, banned from school, prohibited from meeting in groups of twos or threes, and forbidden to leave their homes without a close male relative and without wearing a head-to-toe burqa shroud. Women make up sixty to seventy percent of the Afghan population, and before the Taliban, women, in cities like Kabul, were the majority of educators, healthcare workers, and students.
“The restoration of a broad-based democracy, representative of both ethnic minorities and women, with women at the table, is necessary to break the back of a terrorist and a war-torn existence,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority. “Women have risked their own lives and some have lost their lives trying to resist Taliban decrees. These women leaders must be a part of the peace process and the rebuilding of their country. They must be at the table as decision makers.”
To join the Feminist Majority’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan, log on to www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.
Media Resources: LA Times, 10/24/01; MSNBC News, 10/24/01; Feminist Majority
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. . . .