Senators, Women Leaders Call for Increased Security, Funding for Afghanistan
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Harry Reid (D-NV) joined Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal, NOW President Kim Gandy, National Council of Women’s Organizations Executive Director Martha Burk, Equality Now President Jessica Neuwirth, V-Day Founder Eve Ensler, Gloria Steinem, and Zieba Shorish-Shamley of the Women's Alliance for Peace and Human Rights in Afghanistan in calling on President Bush to expand the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and increase funding for Afghan reconstruction.
As the loya jirga approaches, factional fighting in Afghanistan has increased, threatening the success of the loya jirga process, the establishment of democracy, and the restoration of women’s rights. According to Eleanor Smeal, “This is our chance to help ensure that democracy prevails.” Smeal continued, “We also must act now for women’s security. Afghan women continue to be marginalized by factional fighting and warlordism.”
Women leaders also called attention to the need for increased funding for Afghan reconstruction. While donor nations have pledged $4.5 billion for reconstruction, both the United Nations and the Afghan Minister of Reconstruction estimate that the real cost will total $15-$20 billion. Of the funds pledged, the US has only committed $237 million for reconstruction in FY 2002. The President had talked of creating a “Marshall Plan” for Afghanistan, but a significant increase in US funding is imperative if such a plan is to become a reality. Says Kim Gandy, “To the [Bush] Administration: put your money where your mouth is.”
Yesterday, the House voted on a plan to send $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan over the next four years. House members also voted 407-4 on an amendment that would require the President to announce to Congress his plan to address mounting security concerns in Afghanistan. According to Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), “a failture to act on [the security] issue may well lead to a failure to win the war on terrorism in Afghanistan.”
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. . . .