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.”
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. . . .