The Feminist Majority, along with along with 78 other humanitarian, human rights, and conflict prevention organizations, called upon NATO to expand the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. NATO will assume control of ISAF in August, but the groups are urging NATO to order an expansion of ISAF now because it takes time to generate and deploy troops. Currently, there are only 4,800 ISAF troops in Afghanistan, and they are limited to the capital city of Kabul.
Increased security is particularly important as the country begins voter registration for the 2004 elections. In addition, Afghan citizens are experiencing increased threats for expressing their political views on the draft constitution, according to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. There is concern among Afghan women's rights and human rights leaders and activists that unless security is improved immediately and dramatically, any opportunity for peace, democracy, and women's rights will soon come to end. The vast majority of women in Afghanistan continue to wear the burqa because of fear and lack of security in the country.
"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 Times letter 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 to lead the call for peace troop 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.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .