US Ambassador Briefs NGOs at UN Commission on the Status of Women
Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey, the US Representative to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, briefed non-governmental organizations attending the Commission’s 47th session last Thursday. Sauerbrey discussed the situation in Afghanistan with the NGOs, saying that the European Union (EU) was introducing a resolution on Afghanistan but the US Mission decided not to do the same this year because “there are other countries that have women’s abuses worse or the same as in Afghanistan and it would not be fair to highlight Afghanistan as a country with huge amounts of women’s rights abuses.”
Sara Hasan Nagy, representing the Feminist Majority Foundation at the NGO meeting, asked Sauerbrey whether the resolution calls for the expansion of ISAF (International Security Assistance Forces). Sauerbrey did not know what ISAF stood for, turning to a staff member who explained that the EU resolution does not call for the much needed peacekeeping force. This comes after a United Nations report released last week entitled “The Situation of Women and Girls in Afghanistan” stated, “In the absence of an effective national force, the lack of security across the country continues to impede progress in the rehabilitation of Afghanistan and the advancement of women.”
In addition, Sauerbrey quoted the delegate from Afghanistan as stating that there are no problems in Herat for women, as detailed extensively in a recent Human Rights Watch report. Sauerbrey said that reports by HRW that women have been forced to undergo gynecological exams after being seen with unrelated men are not true.
When asked about the United States’ role in impeding the progress of international family planning programs, such as withdrawing $34 million earmarked for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Sauerbrey stated that “there has been no decrease in family planning funding in the United States.” She added that Bush’s new Emergency Fund for AIDS does include money for family planning and condoms, though she did not provide details.
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. . . .