Afghanistan: Constitutional Commission Includes Seven Women
A 35-member commission appointed to review Afghanistan's draft constitution includes seven women. A preliminary draft of the constitution was completed last November by an eight-member committee headed by Vice President Nayiamatullah Shahrani, according to the Associated Press. The new commission will spend a month refining the draft, and then they will solicit the views of selected Afghans across the country and incorporate their suggestions in the final draft to be presented to the loya jirga in October, AP reports.
However, experts have warned that unless there is greater security in Afghanistan, the drafting of the constitution will be a "meaningless exercise," according to Voice of America. Factional fighting last month in northwestern Afghanistan killed 38 civilians, including women and children, according to Reuters. In addition, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the United Nations report that factional fighters in the Bagdhis province have committed abuses that include the rape of women, Reuters reports. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and Ministry of Women's Affairs have made several recommendations to the commission working on the constitution to improve the status of women, including provisions to guarantee women's rights, give women full citizenship, increase the age for marriage, and implement compulsory education for girls and boys. In addition, the institutions are urging that the constitution serve as the law of the land, above custom or local rule.
Afghan civilians trying to rebuild their homes and their communities lack financial support from the US, where the scant funds earmarked to aid civilians has not actually reached them. For example, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) earmarked $1.25 million in last year's budget to help Afghan civilians who had experienced losses due to US military action, according to the Washington Post. However, none of that money has helped Afghans who have suffered the most basic losses: the destruction of their homes, the maiming and deaths of their children and relatives, and the devastation of their livelihoods, the Post reports.
The Feminist Majority continues leading the call for 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. . . .