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for Afghanistan for next year and he killed $150 million for Afghanistan health and agricultural programs when he rescinded a $5 billion emergency foreign aid spending package in August.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.
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. . . .