Women's Groups Release Scorecard on Bush Administration
Three women's rights and health groups today commemorated Women's Equality Day by releasing a scorecard rating the Bush administration on global women's issues. The Global Women's Issues Scorecard on the Bush Administration was unveiled at a press conference in Washington, DC this morning featuring leaders of the three groups: Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority; Jodi Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE); and June Zeitlin, executive director of the Women's Environmental and Development Organization (WEDO). "When women are equal and women are empowered, we are a safer, more secure, and more prosperous world," said Zeitlin.
The groups selected issues important to women globally and rated the Bush administration's rhetoric on the issues, as well as the current reality. For example, the Bush administration received a "B" on its rhetoric about Afghan women, but received an "F" for the reality. "A year ago President Bush declared that women's rights had been restored in Afghanistan and that girls had returned to school," said Smeal. "Last week we learned that because of the worsening security situation in the country more girls' schools have been set on fire by fundamentalist extremists. Because the Bush Administration refuses to support expansion of international peace troops beyond Kabul, girls' schools are under attack, regional warlords are able to impose Taliban-like restrictions, people who speak out for women's rights and human rights receive threats, and many women still wear the burqa out of fear." The administration received incompletes for both rhetoric and reality on the passage of the Convention to End all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the International Women's Rights treaty, because of its inaction on the issue. Last summer, the 1979 treaty passed for the first time out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but it has not yet been brought up for a vote by the full Senate. If there was a vote, says Smeal, CEDAW would pass. "What Senator in what year wants to go down in history being opposed to basic equality for women?" she said.
Other issues included international family planning; Bush's HIV/AIDS initiative; women in Iraq; and the impact of agricultural subsidies on women in developing countries. "Women here and around the world heard the Bush administration's rhetoric and it gave them hope," said Zeitlin. "But women are waiting for the reality to see [if] the administration can deliver on women's rights." Regarding the grade of "F" the Bush administration received for the reality of international family planning, Jacobson emphasized that so-called pro-life groups should not be celebrating. "I'm not really clear on the definition of 'pro-life' if that doesn't mean concern about the 600,000 women who die each year from complications of childbirth," she said.
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. . . .