Senate Majority Whip Harry Reid (D-NV) spoke candidly on the Senate floor yesterday about the suffering of Afghan women under the Taliban and urged the U.S. to intensify its efforts to restore Afghan women’s rights. Wearing a Symbol of Remembrance, a small square of mesh through which Afghan women must see, Reid acknowledged that women were the Taliban’s first victims, and that the Taliban’s brutal system of gender apartheid had “nothing to do with religion” but “everything to do with power.” Reid also called for women’s participation in the reconstruction process, strongly stating, “Women must play a role in the rebuilding of post-Taliban Afghanistan.”
Reid spoke at length about the decrees under which Afghan women have lived and their efforts to resist the Taliban. Women have been barred from work, school, and public baths and are not allowed to leave their homes without a close male relative and without wearing the burqa shroud. Many women, however, do not have close male relatives, such as a brother or husband, because of war that has spanned more than two decades. Kabul alone has over 40,000 widows. In spite of the Taliban, massive poverty, and the threat of reprisal, including execution, women have attempted to maintain some semblance of civil society by running clandestine home schools and providing rudimentary health services.
The Feminist Majority provided Sen. Reid with 100 Symbols of Remembrance, which will be distributed to every member of the Senate. To find out how you can get involved, or to acquire the symbol, log on to www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.
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. . . .