One Year After Taliban, Afghanistan Still Struggling
Despite some improvements in the quality of life in Afghanistan one year after the Taliban fell, especially for women, there are still many challenges facing the war-torn country. Dr. Sima Samar, head of the Human Rights Commission in Afghanistan, also emphasized that “security is the biggest problem,” according to the Associated Press. “Yes, things are much better for women. No one is beating them. There is no law to wear the burqa. Girls are in school. But still there a lot of problems,” she told AP. In fact, there have been attacks on at least 12 girls’ schools over the past few months, indicating a fundamentalist backlash against the education of girls and women in a country that had under the Taliban forbidden it.
In addition, the country has not seen the aid that was promised at the January meeting of international donors in Tokyo. Karzai has criticized the global community for failing to provide Afghanistan with not only emergency assistance and humanitarian aid but also aid for reconstruction, to rebuild Afghanistan’s tattered infrastructure. The United States has exceeded its promise this year, giving Afghanistan $588 million since 2001—however, Bush has not earmarked any funding for Afghanistan for next year and he killed $150 million for Afghanistan health and agricultural programs when he rescinded a $5 billion emergency foreign aid spending package in August. Moreover, $588 million falls far short of the resources necessary for a “Marshall Plan” to rebuild Afghanistan.
Such officials as Afghan President Hamid Karzai, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and US Army General Tommy Franks have noted that the biggest problem facing Afghanistan is security. Outside of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, there are no international peacekeeping troops and the country is mostly run by warlords, former allies of the United States against the Taliban, who rule by force. Karzai recently dismissed several commanders in an effort to strengthen his rule over the fractured country. However, no commitment has yet been made to expand international peacekeeping forces. The Feminist Majority has been leading the push to increase humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Afghanistan as well as to expand peacekeeping troops outside of Kabul.
11/20/2014 Federal Appeals Court Rejects Priests for Life Challenge to Birth Control Coverage Rule - In a victory for women's health, a unanimous panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Friday rejected a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive coverage benefit brought by Priests for Life, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington and other religiously affiliated non-profit organizations.
Judge Nina Pillard, a former law professor who was nominated to the DC Circuit by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in December, wrote the opinion for the Court, which found that the ACA birth control benefit did not substantially burden or violate non-profits' religious freedom.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies must cover the full cost of all FDA-approved contraceptives - including the pill, IUDs, and emergency contraception - without requiring co-pays or cost-sharing. . . .