Afghan Girls Return to School for First Time Since '96
For the first time since the Taliban took power in 1996, Afghan girls and female teachers returned to Afghanistan's public schools on March 23. While the schools remain understaffed, overcrowded, and under funded, Afghans expressed exuberance at the new freedom found there. Hamid Karzai, head of
Afghanistan’s interim government, gave an emotional address to Amani High School students and staff, saying, "Today, we cry from happiness." Many girls find themselves well behind, having been banned from school for more than five years. Nonetheless, they are entering at whatever grade they are accepted into, happy for the opportunity to begin to catch up. Those who can afford it are taking "cram" courses to make up grades. Girls who managed to sneak some home schooling during Taliban rule are in better shape than others to return; many young girls were married off to older men by desperately poor parents and will never get that chance. The illiteracy rate is now 80 percent for women and 60 percent for men. Welcoming girls and women teachers back to school may be the first and most important step towards rebuilding a viable and stable democracy in Afghanistan.
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. . . .