Afghanistan: Country Struggles as Reconstruction Efforts Begin in Iraq
While the United States Office for the Reconstruction of Iraq sent teams to Iraq to establish offices in various parts of the country this week, Afghanistan continues to struggle for resources and security to make possible the rebuilding of its government and its country. According to the Washington Post “the military is splintered by factionalism, the police force is untrained, the justice system is dominated by religious conservatives who have more in common with the Taliban than with Karzai, and the tax collection is largely ineffective.”
The Washington Post reports that Asraf Ghani, the Afghan Finance Minister, stated that with $20 billion more in aid over the next five years “Afghanistan will become a prospering nation that can take care of itself entirely in 10 years” but if the international community forgets its commitments “Afghanistan will become a narco-terrorist state that will be a constant problem to the world.” The money spent by aid agencies and the United Nations in 2002 has not been enough to yield successful results. For example, the $50-60 million needed for the 2004 elections has not been raised and the Washington Post has reported that the Louis Berger Group, the U.S. firm coordinating the U.S. part of the Kabul-Kandahar-Herat highway, announced that the $180 million pledged by the United States, Japan and Saudi Arabia is only enough money to rebuild part of the highway from Kabul to Kandahar. The Afghan government has requested funds to do the road work themselves in a more cost effective manner.
In addition, lack of security remains a major deterrent in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The New York Times reported that a car bomb exploded on Saturday in eastern Afghanistan killing four people and an Italian tourist was shot dead last week while in a taxi in southern Afghanistan. The Feminist Majority has been leading the call for International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) expansion, increased reconstruction funding, and for more resources to support the work of the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Independent Human Rights Commission.
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. . . .