In a landmark victory for women in Afghanistan, both chambers of the US Congress passed legislation late last night that provides $3 billion in funding for humanitarian aid and expansion of international peacekeeping forces. If President Bush signs this bill into law, the women of Afghanistan could begin to emerge from the violence that has remained since the Taliban was ousted from power one year ago.
This bill also includes an amendment that makes Afghan women a funding priority. Introduced in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the amendment earmarks $15 million each year for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and $5 million each year for the Independent Human Rights Commission.
Under the leadership of committee chairman Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Boxer, the committee’s sole woman member, working with the Feminist Majority, the legislation was first passed under bipartisan unanimous support in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in August.
“This is a tremendous victory for the women of Afghanistan,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “It could not have come a moment too soon.”
Over the past few months, a dozen girls schools have been burned, bombed or closed. Just before and after several of these incidents, fundamentalist leaflets were passed out that warned girls against going to school. Threats to Loya Jirga delegates who have spoken out for human rights, including Independent Human Rights Commission Chair Dr. Sima Samar; the assassination of two government ministers; violence against women in the Northern provinces; violence against humanitarian aid workers; and the use of tactics of intimidation against the return of girls to school show the need for expansion of peacekeeping forces both within and beyond Kabul is urgent.
Expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul to its outlying regions is necessary for the newly elected Afghan democracy to maintain control over the country. Currently, there are approximately 5,000 International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) that patrol within the capital city of Kabul. Without U.S. support, expansion of these international peacekeeping forces will not be possible.
1/23/2015 #HeForShe Campaign Launches Pilot Effort Aimed at Institutional Equality - The United Nations' gender equality campaign #HeForShe has launched a new program called IMPACT 10X10X10.
United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson, together with UN Women Executive DirectorPhumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, introduced the one-year pilot effort aimed at encouraging corporations, universities, and governments to play an active role in enhancing women's empowerment and equality in Davos, Switzerland today at the World Economic Forum.
"Women need to be equal participants in our homes, societies, in our governments, and in our workplaces," Watson said.
First introduced in September, HeForShe is a solidarity movement that calls on men and boys to confront gender inequalities that face women and girls globally. . . .
1/22/2015 BREAKING: House to Vote on Abortion Coverage Ban - After they were forced to scrap plans for a 20-week abortion ban, House Republican leaders decided late last night to instead ram through a vote today on a different extreme anti-abortion bill.
House Republicans are now pushing HR 7, a bill promoted as a ban on federal funding of abortion that would actually prevent women from using their own money to purchase health insurance that includes abortion care. . . .
1/22/2015 House Cancels Abortion Ban After GOP Congresswomen Drop Support - House Republicans cancelled plans to vote on a 20-week ban on abortion after Republican Congresswomen removed their names publicly as co-sponsors of the bill.
The vote on the unconstitutional 20-week ban had originally been scheduled for today, the anniversary of Roe v. . . .