UN Aid Worker Slain in Afghanistan; Women Candidates Threatened
A United Nations aid worker was killed on Sunday in Ghazni by two men whom authorities believe are Taliban rebels. The 29-year-old Frenchwoman, Bettina Goislard, who was working for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was the first UN staff to be killed in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban two years ago. This attack came less than a week after a bomb exploded near a UN vehicle carrying three Afghan UN employees and another bomb was set off outside the UN offices in Kandahar. Taliban officials have warned that they would not spare any foreign aid workers or the Afghans working for them, reports Reuters.
In addition, women chosen to represent their provinces in the upcoming loya jirga (grand council) are being threatened by letters warning them that if they continue trying to elect women to the loya jirga they will be targeted, reports the Christian Science Monitor. In Paktika Province, no women have registered for elections even though they were supposed to have an election on November 3 and in Parwan the mullah announced that women should not participate in the elections, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
After a recent visit to Afghanistan, the United Nations Security Council reported that the lack of security has "affected the entire Afghan peace process" and has seriously slowed reconstruction efforts, reports the Washington Post.
Even with new commitments by the United Nations and NATO to expand the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) beyond Kabul, concerns remain over whether the size of the expansion will be large enough and whether the troop size in Kabul will be reduced, a move that many experts say would destabilize the already fragile Afghan central government. For two years, the Afghan government, the United Nations, and human rights and women's rights organizations have requested expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, which has been limited to some 5,500 troops in Kabul.
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. . . .