Deputy Prime Minister of Afghanistan Urges More Aid, Women’s Rights
Dr. Sima Samar, the recently appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Women’s Affairs for the transitional government of Afghanistan, met today with the U.S. State Department to discuss her role in the interim government that will take office December 22. Samar called on the United States to increase humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, combat the humanitarian crisis, and help ensure the success of the transitional government. While in Washington, Samar gave a press conference where Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal introduced her as a “courageous leader and advocate for women’s rights who is a hands-on administrator.”
Speaking to reporters at the press conference, Samar stressed the importance of restoring women’s rights to the future of Afghanistan. Women are the majority of healthcare workers and educators inside Afghanistan, making their work indispensable to creating a successful civil society. Samar once again emphasized that the violent restrictions placed upon women by the Taliban have no basis in the Afghan culture or in Islam and pledged her unwavering commitment to ensuring women’s rights and full participation in Afghan life.
Samar, a medical doctor, graduated from Kabul University Medical School and has been a tireless supporter of women’s rights in Afghanistan. She is the founder and executive director of the Shuhada Organization, which runs 45 schools in central Afghanistan servicing 20,000 students, as well as 11 clinics and 4 hospitals. Shuhada also runs 4 schools, a hospital, a clinic, and a training facility for physician assistants, paramedics, and teachers who are Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Many of Shuhada’s schools and clinics were the only facilities for women and girls in either Afghanistan or Pakistan. Samar has received many international humanitarian awards and was recently honored with the John Humphrey Freedom Award for her courageous work on behalf of Afghan women and girls.
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. . . .