Donor Nations Give Afghan Government Control of Aid
In a significant shift in policy, donor nations yielded control of appropriating the pledged $1.24 billion to Afghanistan’s central government yesterday. Prior to this decision, donations were coordinated by the Afghanistan Support Group. After a two-day donor meeting in Oslo, Norway, the New York Times reported that the group dissolved itself and gave responsibility of donations over to a “streamlined consulting group” in Kabul, headed by Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani. Delegates from 23 nations in Oslo stated that the shift recognized Afghans taking control over the course of their future, and though there were some concerns about the central government’s capability to take on the task, delegates agreed that it was time for Afghan President Hamid Karzai to take “the reins,” according to the Times. During the donor meeting, Karzai urged donors in Oslo to help with long-term reconstruction and not immediate humanitarian aid, the BBC reports. Many have criticized the fact that only about one-tenth of reconstruction funding has gone directly to the Afghan government, with the bulk of money being spent by international organizations and United Nations agencies instead. This funding strategy, some argue, has weakened the central government and the development of Afghan-led institutions.
Norway’s Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, urged the Afghan government at the meeting to focus on improving the status of women in the country, saying “the situation for women in Afghanistan is improving but there is still a way to go,” according to Agence France-Presse. Human Rights Watch released a report this week stressing the challenges facing women in post-Taliban Afghanistan; however, Karzai rejected the report’s claim that progress in women’s rights was deteriorating.
The Afghan Freedom Support Act of 2002, which was signed by President Bush recently, authorizes $2.3 billion in aid to Afghanistan over four years and $1 billion to expand international peacekeeping troops. The Act also includes language by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) that makes Afghan women a funding priority, earmarking $15 million each year for the Ministry of Women's Affairs and $5 million each year for the Independent Human Rights Commission because of the importance of supporting Afghan-led institutions to safeguard women’s rights. However, the Bush Administration’s 2003 budget forwarded to Congress does not include any funding for Afghan reconstruction or expansion of ISAF. This authorization is a major step in securing the funding necessary for Afghan reconstruction and security. The funds must still be appropriated by Congress when it convenes next year, and the Bush Administration must take action to support the expansion of international peace troops within and beyond Kabul.
10/13/2015 EEOC Launches Hollywood Gender Discrimination Probe - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has contacted several women directors in Hollywood in an effort to determine whether legal intervention is necessary to disrupt the industry's discriminatory hiring practices.
In a letter sent to some 50 women filmmakers, the EEOC - which is responsible for protecting individuals from employment discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion and national origin through enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - requested interviews with them to "learn more about the gender-related issues" women behind the camera face in both the film and television industries.
In May, following the release of a study by the San Diego State University Center for the Study of Women in Television in Film revealing only 7 percent of 2014's 250 top-grossing movies were helmed by women, the ACLU of Southern California and the national ACLU Women's Rights Project urged state and federal rights agencies to investigate Hollywood's failure to hire equal numbers of women. . . .
10/12/2015 Report Finds Texas' HB2 Increases Abortion Wait Times - A new report released by the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Policy Evaluation Project found patients seeking abortions in Texas have experienced an increase in wait times since the passage of HB2, the 2013 Texas omnibus anti-abortion bill that attempts to cut off abortion access by requiring abortion providers in the state to fulfill medically unnecessary ambulatory surgical center requirements and secure hospital admitting privileges.
More than half of 42 clinics providing abortion in Texas have been forced to shut their doors since HB2 passed two years ago, leading Texas women to wait up to 20 days for a first consult at one of the surviving 18 reproductive health clinics operating in the state, the second most populous in the nation. . . .
10/9/2015 Federal Judge Orders Anti-Abortion Group to Cede Footage to NAF - On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and its leader David Daleidan must turn over all previously unreleased "sting" videos and outtakes of National Abortion Federation (NAF) meetings the group obtained surreptitiously as part of a smear campaign against the abortion provider.
U.S. . . .