Pentagon Restricts Role of Women’s Advisory Committee
The Pentagon has fired all Clinton-appointed members of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) and created a new charter for the 51-year old committee that restricts its advisory role. Instead of advising Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on “the full range of matters,” DACOWITS will now report on only “specified matters” determined by the Pentagon, according to the Washington Times. The Pentagon has also ended the relationship of 30 service representatives to DACOWITS and has forbidden DACOWITS from conducting site visits to independently picked U.S. military installations. The Pentagon will now determine where the new DACOWITS panel is allowed to visit.
The Pentagon is now choosing new members of DACOWITS. The Washington Times reports that all members will now be required to have been in the military or to be in a military family. The Pentagon is not making a commitment to ensuring that women are adequately represented on the panel, and officials have said that there will be “no predetermined ratio” of men to women on the panel.
Reactionary anti-feminist groups had been urging the Bush Administration to dismantle DACOWITS altogether, even though the committee has helped increase women’s participation in military service over a period of decades. The Pentagon’s new reconstruction of DACOWITS comes just as a federal district court ruled that the U.S. Army’s promotional affirmative action policy was unconstitutional and disadvantaged white males. As of 1997, women made up only 14% of the Army. In that same year, an Army report found that “sexual harassment exists throughout the army” and that “sex discrimination is more common than sexual harassment.”
Media Resources: Washington Times, 3/6/02; Feminist Daily News Wire, 3/5/02
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. . . .