Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced picks for 14 of his cabinet posts yesterday, only one of which was a woman. In addition, selection of a leader for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs was conspicuously missing from President Hamid Karzai’s list. Dr. Sima Samar, who heads the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in the interim government and served as vice chair for the loya jirga, has suffered verbal attacks recently from Islamic fundamentalists for unconfirmed reports that she does not believe in Islamic law. Samar has yet to be appointed to a position in Karzai’s government.
Few of the choices differed from those already serving in the interim government including several warlords. “Afghanistan’s warlords are stronger today than they were 10 days ago before the loya jirga started,” said Saman Zia-Zarifi, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch. “Short term political expediency has clearly triumphed over human rights.” Representatives of two parties implicated in recent attacks on ethnic Pashtun civilians in northern Afghanistan were appointed to four key cabinet positions while Fazul Hadi Shinwari, who is known for his drastic punishments such as stoning and amputation, was chosen to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Human Rights Watch believes that the warlords’ presence in the new government is due to the lack of an international security presence in the country. “Instead of creating a space for civilian leadership to emerge during the six-month interval, the lack of an internationally enforced security arrangement meant that warlords used that time to rebuild their military and political networks,” Zia-Zarifi said. The Feminist Majority joins Human Rights Watch in their call to Karzai to launch investigations into intimidation of loya jirga delegates by newly appointed leaders and equip the newly formed Afghan Human Rights Commission with the necessary resources to protect delegates as they return home.TAKE ACTION: Support Expansion of International Peacekeeping Troops in Afghanistan
Media Resources: Human Rights Watch 6/20/02; BBC 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. . . .