Afghan Refugees Still in Dire Need of Humanitarian Aid
In refugee camps in western Afghanistan, disease has spread like wildfire, killing hundreds of children over the past few weeks. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that as many as 100,000 children alone could die from starvation and disease if they do not receive humanitarian aid supplies quickly. Thirty-three tons of relief supplies are being trucked into Herat, but more supplies are needed. In other parts of Afghanistan, including Mazar-e Sharif and Jalalabad, women and children are at increased risk as humanitarian operations have shut down or have been postponed because of security concerns.
More promising was the return of women and girls to schools in cities where the Taliban has been defeated. In Jalalabad, some 200 girls flocked to Naswan Girls School when it reopened yesterday. Many of the girls had never been inside of a school before. The girls, however, had to be turned away when teachers discovered that the school was not equipped with adequate supplies. The school has no books, desks, paper, chalk, or writing instruments. Jalalabad is now controlled by warlords who have appointed themselves to municipal government posts. Reports from Afghans in the city suggest that these warlords were a part of the group of soldiers that seized control of the city and began restricting women’s rights, including the right to education, before the Taliban arrived. One teacher at the Naswan Girls School, still wearing her burqa, said “We don’t trust these leaders. We remember what they did before, and we don’t think the future will be good.”
To find out how you can help Afghan women by urging for more humanitarian aid, the restoration of women’s rights, and the inclusion of women in the planning process of a new Afghan government, log on to www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.
Media Resources: LA Times, 11/27/01; Associated Press, 11/26/01; 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. . . .