Afghan Legislature Will Include Minimum of 15 Seats for Women
Afghanistan’s new legislature will include at least 15 seats reserved for women, according to a proposed plan by newly-elected President Hamid Karzai. The legislature also would consist of two delegates from each of the country’s 32 provinces and other seats chosen from within the loya jirga – one for every 20 delegates. However, Karzai’s plan, which was proposed to appease the 1,551 loya jirga delegates who had reached an impasse over the issue of choosing a parliament, was met with disdain from many at the national assembly. In addition, the issue of choosing a cabinet, another key point of conflict, remains unresolved. In a sober address to the delegates Tuesday, Karzai proposed setting up numerous commissions to oversee various aspects of government and to negotiate rules for choosing a legislature after the assembly disbands today.
Meanwhile, fundamentalists at the loya jirga launched an attack on Dr. Sima Samar, Minister of Women’s Affairs, for a quote in a Canadian newspaper in which she allegedly said: “I don’t believe in Sharia [Islamic law.” Islamic hardliners called for punishment of Samar in a letter printed by Mujahed, a party-political newspaper. Observers at the assembly say the attack, coming just before cabinet appointments, could be a deliberate move to minimize her role in Afghanistan’s future government. Samar, who was elected deputy chairwoman of the loya jirga Wednesday, came under attack last week after she called for a “new Afghanistan, where our children do not play with guns for toys and are kept away from evil and corruption.” Islamic fundamentalists took that statement as a reference to themselves and mujahideen fighters and launched an angry protest.
Media Resources: BBC News 6/18/02; Washington Post 6/18/02; CNN.com 6/18/02
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. . . .