During a visit to Germany by Secretary of State Colin Powell, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called for the expansion of international peacekeeping forces beyond Kabul. Since Germany currently leads the peacekeeping force of some 4,500 troops, Schroeder's statement prompted NPR reporter Emilie Harris to speculate on whether his announcement signals a possible shift in U.S. policy.
Despite murder of aid workers, attacks on de-mining operations, Taliban-like restrictions in some provinces, factional fighting, and the bombing of girls' schools, the US has refused to provide the support necessary to allow the expansion of international peacekeeping forces outside of the capitol of Afghanistan. Instead, the US is establishing provincial regional teams (PRTs) in 7 locations with 10-60 to provide some security and reconstruction assistance. PRTs have been established in only 3 areas thus far, and fall far short of the peace troop size that many believe is necessary to achieve and sustain peace and security in the country. In February, in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Afghanistan's Ambassador to the U.S. called for 15,000 troops to provide peace keeping support. Last week, UN Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi repeated his call for expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) beyond Kabul in order to ensure that the development of a new constitution, voter registration, and the 2004 elections proceed fairly and democratically.
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.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .