Afghanistan: US Bomb Kills Civilians, Rebuilding Efforts Continue
US bombs were responsible for the deaths of 11 civilians in Afghanistan earlier this week, according to the Agence France Presse. Considered the most serious mistake by the US military in Afghanistan since the accidental bombing of an Afghan wedding party last June, the 1,000-pound laser-guided bomb struck a civilian home, killing seven women and four men inside. Coinciding with mounting civilian casualties in the war with Iraq, the incident highlights the painful consequences of war. Amnesty International (AI) issued a statement yesterday urging an investigation of the misfire. AI also stressed that “Civilian casualties cannot be allowed—neither in Afghanistan nor in Iraq—to become an acceptable feature of war,” according to a press release.
Elsewhere in war-torn Afghanistan, much work remains to be done. The Afghan Rural Reconstruction and Development Minister Hanif Atmar yesterday announced the new National Solidarity Program (NSP), which will provide 4,000 rural villages with $95 million in federal grants. Unlike many foreign humanitarian projects, under the NSP, village leaders will have the authority to distribute monies, as they deem appropriate. The World Bank has already agreed to fund $22 million for the project; Norway and Denmark are expected to fund the remaining $73 million, reported the Associated Press. However, there is a concern among advocates for Afghan women, including the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Afghan women will be excluded from this grant program.
Meanwhile, at Kabul University, 17 students including seven women, recently earned computer networking skills certificates from the Cisco Networking Academy, developed to train 200 students on IT. One program graduate, Rita Dorani told Reuters, “My message for all Afghan women is to try as much as possible to learn about computers, because it is essential for every man and woman to be aware of this global technology.” Supervised by the UN Development Program (UNDP), project director Marc Lepage said plans are in the works for similar programs in other regions of the country, reported Reuters.
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. . . .