Afghan Women Demand Equal Rights For Women in Constitution
Female delegates attending Afghanistan's Loya Jirga succeeded in winning an agreement to replace the words "citizens of Afghanistan" with the expression "women and men" in one of the articles in the Constitution regarding education. The current draft lacks language that defines "citizens" as both women and men. According to Eurasia Net, female delegates are hoping that the replacement of "Afghan citizens" with "Afghan men and women" will be made throughout the constitution.
A female delegate from the Balkh Province is urging that an article on women's rights be added to the constitution as well as a provision to ban trafficking of women. The current draft of the constitution leaves women's rights in many areas vulnerable to interpretation of Islam. In addition, it does not contain language to protect women from forced marriage, early marriage, or protect women's property rights.
Meanwhile, the lack of security in Afghanistan was highlighted today when two rockets hit Kabul as delegates gathered to continue debate on the new constitution, reports the Associated Press. According to the New York Times, the United States recently announced that they will expand the provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) into the south and southeast of the country. While the focus of these teams is supposed to be security, the teams include only 50-70 personnel and PRTs are not allowed to intervene to prevent human rights violations or to keep peace between rival factions. Women's rights and human rights organizations have argued that deployment of more PRTs with their current size and mandate are not an adequate response to the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the continued widespread human rights violations and should not be considered a replacement for full-scale expansion of international peacekeeping forces throughout the country.
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. . . .