Afghanistan’s newly elected leader, Hamid Karzai, pledged to bring peace and security to the war-torn nation today in an acceptance speech before the loya jirga. While Karzai outlined priorities that included eliminating terrorism and poverty, there was little mention of plans to help women who are now emerging from horrific repression under rule of the Taliban. In addition, there was heated debate over the role Islam should play within the new administration. Some delegates are pushing for Sharia law to be implemented and for the government to be called the “transitional Islamic administration of Afghanistan.” Others disagree, citing the repression of the Taliban. During the Taliban’s six years in power, Afghan women were not allowed to work or go to school, to walk outside the home alone and were required to wear the burqa at all times. “We’ve seen with the Taliban what has been done in the name of Islam and we should not defame it anymore,” said Gul Agha Shirzai, the governor of Kandahar.
On Saturday, Karzai is expected to announce nominations for cabinet posts, which will be an important indication of the influence of women as well as different ethnic and militant factions. With approximately 200 female delegates to the first loya jirga in 38 years, women have never before been allowed to participate in a national assembly in such large numbers. Female physician Massouda Jalal, finished as runner-up for the head of state position yesterday with 171 votes. Women have been vocal throughout the loya jirga, calling for education to be a high priority and criticizing notorious warlords for attending the loya jirga. “We came here to push for peace and show the men how to cooperate,” said Najibar Absal. “We all have to work together and play our parts for our country. It is the only way.”
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. . . .