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.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .