At the encouragement of Afghan interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai, Afghan women have returned to work in the ministries of the Afghan interim government – without wearing their burqas. Although not obligated to shed the head-to-toe shroud, no woman working in any of the government ministries has elected to put on the restrictive garment, required under Taliban rule. Karzai has also directed the ministries to hire more women and has made a push for women’s rights within the country. Earlier this month, Afghan women witnessed Karzai signing the Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women which affirms women’s right to personal safety, right to physical and mental health, right to institutional education, right not to wear the burqa, and right to equal protection under the law.
While Karzai has made steps towards women’s rights in Afghanistan, the Ministry for Women’s Affairs is in desperate need of immediate funding in order to survive. The Ministry for Women’s Affairs is the only ministry without pre-existing resources. Without funding from donor nations, the ministry will not be able to function, jeopardizing women’s rights initiatives in the country.
Meeting in Tokyo over the past two days, donor nations pledged $4.5 billion in aid for the reconstruction of Afghanistan over the next two years. Of this amount, $1.8 billion is scheduled to be disbursed this year. The U.S. has pledged only $297 million for reconstruction efforts, despite the ruinous effects the U.S.-led war on terrorism has had on Afghanistan’s infrastructure, including water systems, sanitation, and roads. Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority, noted that funding for the effective reconstruction of Afghanistan must be made a priority in the war on terrorism, cautioning that if it is not “we will be right back where we started.” Smeal emphasized that creating peace and stability in Afghanistan is an integral part of our war on terrorism, as instability ultimately led to the rise of the mujahideen and the Taliban, paving the way for terrorist activities.
Media Resources: Washington Post, 1/22/02; USA Today, 1/21/02; Feminist Daily News Wire, 1/17/02; Feminist Majority
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. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .