Afghanistan Prepares to Debate Constitution; Women's Rights Lacking
This week, delegates from all of Afghanistan's 32 provinces are voting to select the 500 members of the loya jirga (general assembly) that will debate the country's draft constitution. Despite the fact that there will be separate elections are being held for women, nomads, refugees, and minority groups, who have a limited number of seats reserved for them, few women have come forward in the rural provinces as candidates, according to the Washington Post. In some cases, women candidates are being sent threatening letters, and other women say that officials are discouraging them from participating, according to the Post.
The loya jirga is scheduled to begin on December 10, and debate over the draft constitution is expected to be intense. Women's and human rights advocates are concerned that the constitution lacks essential rights protections for women's rights. For example, it lacks language that women's rights and human rights advocates had urged explicitly defining "citizens" as both women and men and leaves women's rights in many areas vulnerable to interpretation of Islam. In addition, the current version of the constitution does not contain language to protect women from forced marriage, early marriage, or protect women's property rights. Noeleen Heyzer, executive director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), urges the loya jirga to adopt provisions to the constitution that would guarantee "women's right to work under fair and just conditions," "equal access to education and health care," "access to gender-specific health services," and that the term "female-headed households" should be used in the text in place of "women without caretakers," according to the New York Times.
Meanwhile, the lack of security in Afghanistan was highlighted last night when a rocket exploded near the US Embassy in Afghanistan hours after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld left the country after a short visit, according to the Chicago Tribune. Rumsfeld was in Afghanistan to strategize about improving security in advance of the upcoming election in June. One suggestion he offered was to have NATO take over some of the US-led coalition duties, which is seen as possibly an attempt to allow US troops to leave the country, according to the Tribune.
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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. . . .
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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. . . .