Two women’s names have been released as candidates for posts in the transitional Afghan government. Negotiators meeting in Bonn named Dr. Sima Samar to be one of five deputy prime ministers as well as the minister of women’s affairs. Samar, a women's rights advocate and medical doctor, fled the country in the 1980s during the Soviet occupation and is the director of Shuhada Organization, which runs 50 schools for girls and boys, 12 clinics, and 2 hospitals in Afghanistan as well as 4 schools for girls and boys, a hospital, and a clinic in Quetta, Pakistan. In addition, Samar runs numerous other health, income-generation, and relief programs for Afghan women living inside of the country and those living as refugees in Pakistan. Negotiators also named Suhaila Seddiqi, a physician and retired general, to lead the ministry of health. Seddiqi served in the Afghan military during the Soviet occupation.
In Quetta, Pakistan, Afghan women and men interviewed by the LA Times showed support for the appointed women, especially Samar. Mahzawar Angoor, an elderly Afghan woman, told reporters, “I thank God that now we have a woman in the government,” and when asked for his reaction, Haji Ali Jan said, “Why shouldn’t we be enthusiastic about her? She is educated and she is patriotic, whereas those Taliban, I cannot even call them Afghans.”
Media Resources: LA Times, 12/6/01; Feminist Majority Foundation
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. . . .