Afghanistan: Women Learn to Drive, US to Help Fund Maternal and Child Health Programs
Twelve women in Kabul took driving tests Saturday, marking the first time since 1992 women have been permitted to drive in Afghanistan. The tests followed four months of preparation and training—offered by the German aid agency Medica Mondiale. One of the students, Giti Negbin told the BBC, “It’s so that we can solve our problems by ourselves. Not just driving, we want to do everything where we can solve problems ourselves.” Male passerbys like Zamari, who only offered one name, expressed support for the women. “We are happy for women to have such progress here. Now we can see it with our own eyes… I only hope we can have more peace and more progress in Afghanistan,” he said, according to the BBC.
Women’s health programs are also getting a boost. Following a call last month by Afghan health official Ferouzudeen Ferouz seeking international aid to combat the country’s maternal mortality crisis—the highest in the world, the US Health and Human Services (HHS) department on Sunday announced $5 million in the FY 2004 budget requested for Afghan maternal and child health programs. In addition, the State Department said last week that $25 million originally appropriated for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) would be also be directed to maternal, reproductive, and child health programs in Afghanistan, according to Kaisernetwork.org.
Meanwhile, the lack of security in Afghanistan continues to hinder the work of aid agencies. Recently, two security guards for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were killed in an attack. Consequently, relief work in the districts of Sherzad, Hisarak, and Khogyani have temporarily halted, according to the BBC.
The Feminist Majority and others urge the Bush administration to support the expansion of international peacekeeping troops beyond and within Kabul.
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .