Afghanistan: Voter Registration to Begin by September
Afghanistan plans to begin voter registration for the 2004 elections this September. However, Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned the United Nations that with no recent electoral experience and after two decades of warfare, the country could not accomplish this task alone, according to the Associated Press. Registration is expected to cost around $80 million and last until March 2004, AP reports.
Security remains a concern in Afghanistan. After Karzai threatened to step down, he secured an agreement between various warlords controlling parts of Afghanistan to stop fighting among themselves and to obey national laws, according to the Washington Post. However, at a recent United Nations Security Council briefing, Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi called the security situation in Afghanistan "unstable and insufficient." In addition, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder last week called for the expansion of international peacekeeping forces beyond the capitol city of Kabul. Currently, Germany leads the peacekeeping force of some 4,500 troops.
"Expansion of international peacekeeping troops is necessary to make sure voter registration and the electoral process themselves are fair and democratic, especially for women," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. "Last year, Congress passed the Afghan Freedom Support Act authorizing increased reconstruction financing and peace troop expansion. President Bush signed it into law. But where is the financing and where are the peace troops?" she wrote in a New York Timesletter to the editor. "Women and girls are the first victims: warlords in some areas are placing Taliban-like restrictions on women, and more than a dozen girls' schools have suffered violent attacks by fundamentalists."
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. . . .