Among the ten outstanding women selected as Ms Women of the Year are several who are working for women's rights and health globally. These include Dr. Sima Samar, chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, whose "dedication to women's rights in the face of danger inspires us to do more," writes Elaine Lafferty, editor-in-chief of Ms., in her introduction to the Women of the Year in the Winter issue of the magazine. Dr. Samar, a former Minister of Women's Affairs and deputy prime minister in Afghanistan, was unable to attend the awards breakfast on Monday because of her participation in the loya jirga (grand assembly) that will debate Afghanistan's constitution. Accepting on her behalf was a young Afghan refugee, Feroza Yari, who has been able to continue her education in the United States through the Feminist Majority Foundation's scholarship program.
Ms. also celebrated the "compassion of Loune Viaud in empowering women's health care" in Haiti, Lafferty writes. Putting her belief that free healthcare is a human right, Viaud started a network of hospitals and clinics, including Haiti's first women's health clinic, that provide free healthcare to some of Haiti's poorest citizens.
Also among the 2003 Women of the Year is Niki Caro, writer and director of the feminist New Zealand film "Whale Rider." The film follows a young girl from a Maori tribe as she rises against sexism to become the leader of her people. "Niki Caro's creativity in showing a young girl's leadership makes us whoop out loud," writes Lafferty.
"The 2003 Ms. Women of the Year come together from across the spectrum to further women's struggle for equality," said Peg Yorkin, chair of the board of the feminist Majority Foundation, which publishes Ms. magazine. "They are women who demand justice in everything they do and look forward to make sure that the future generations of women are not left behind." One of the women honored for her commitment to justice globally was Jessica Neuwirth, founder and president of Equality Now, a social justice organization dedicated to ending sex trafficking and violence against women worldwide. Equality Now achieved a victory this year when the New York Supreme Court filed a temporary restraining order against Big Apple Oriental Tours, a company that provided men traveling to the Philippines, Cambodia, and Thailand with prostitutes.
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. . . .