UN, Afghanistan Make Plea for International Aid to Help Ensure National Security
Afghan Interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai and United Nations special envoy to Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi called on the international community yesterday to release aid money pledged for Afghanistan’s reconstruction in January in order to fund a national security force in the country. “[T]he establishment of a well-trained, properly equipped national security force is an absolute priority now,” said Brahimi. “It is the only way to bring about the security for which the people of Afghanistan yearn and which is indispensable if this country is to be reconstructed.”
Violence and instability are major obstacles to reconstruction, as old warlords are taking over various regions of Afghanistan and in some instances are imposing Taliban-like restrictions on women. UN and Afghan officials believe that the immediate expansion of international peace troops is absolutely essential to disarmament, de-escalation of conflicts among warlords, preservation of women’s rights and human rights, delivery of humanitarian assistance, and the success of the loya jirga process. Currently, Afghanistan has only 4,800 international peace troops in Kabul. “Most Afghans have not yet seen the dividends of peace,” said Brahimi. The Bush Administration, however, has refused to allow an expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
At the same time, Afghanistan does not have adequate resources to build an effective national security force. “The time has come for the international community to make good on its promises made in Tokyo and write out its checks,” said Brahimi. Of the $1.8 billion pledged from world donors for the first year of Afghan reconstruction, only $360 million has reached Kabul. Afghanistan, however, is in desperate need of resources to aid economic development, help rebuild its infrastructure, and to help ensure women’s rights. The Afghan Ministry for Women’s Affairs has received very little funding for its critically need programs in the areas of education, vocational training, and women’s health.
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. . . .