Afghan Government in Desperate Need of Start Up Funds
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell assured Afghan interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai yesterday that the U.S. would continue to offer support for Afghan reconstruction efforts. “We will be with you in this current crisis,” said Powell, “and for the future.” Funds for reconstruction, however, have been moving slowly into the country, and Afghanistan is still in desperate need of start up funds to pay for basic supplies like phones, heaters, and office equipment and for civil servant employee salaries, which have not been paid for many months. Powell, though, did not discuss the specifics of U.S. funding on his trip leading UN spokesperson Ahmed Fawsi to comment, “Reassurance is good; cash is better.” Immediate funding is especially critical for the survival of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, a new ministry with no existing resources in Afghanistan.
The United Nations estimates that Afghanistan needs $100 million in start up funds, but donor countries have only pledged $20 million and only $7 million has been delivered. Fawsi called the situation, “very disappointing.” The U.S. alone has pledged $1 million, but as of Tuesday, the Afghan interim government had received only $500,000. The U.S. will, however, participate in a conference in Tokyo next week with more than 50 donor countries to discuss a funding strategy for Afghan reconstruction.
The Feminist Majority is calling for an immediate infusion of aid into Afghanistan, with both immediate and long-term funding designated specifically for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. The Feminist Majority is also calling for some funds to be channeled directly to Afghan women-led nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). UNIFEM and the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children will also be at the meeting, but leading U.S. women’s groups are not being allowed to attend. It is unclear whether Afghan women’s NGOs will be represented at the meeting.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .