Security Concerns May Delay Afghan Elections, US May Arm Militias
Elections in Afghanistan that were planned for June may be postponed due to increased security threats. According to EurasiaNet, a leading expert on Afghanistan, Ahmed Rashid, cites the lack of security and the lack of international funding as the main reason for the possible postponement of the elections. Rashid also expressed his grave concern about the US discussion of creating a so-called Afghan Guard by rebuilding and arming militias that would undermine the United Nations disarmament program. According to the Financial Times, there are approximately 110,000 fighters in the militia groups. The Feminist Majority is concerned that the arming of local militias to increase security would worsen rather than solve the security problems in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, Chief Acquisition Officer of the US Agency for International Development Timothy Beans stated that the "security situation [in Afghanistan] is dominating everything." Beans reported that a lot of people want to go out to Afghanistan to work but the ongoing problem is the security situation that exists.
According to the New York Times, five Afghan aid workers were killed in an ambush just outside Kabul yesterday. More than a hundred people have been killed since the beginning of this year, including humanitarian aid workers, government officials, and foreign and Afghan security forces. Despite the dire security situation in Afghanistan, peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan are a small contingent of some 5,500. Without security, women in Afghanistan will never be able to obtain their rights and the country will never have sustained peace and democracy.
The Feminist Majority is leading the call for international peacekeeping force (ISAF) expansion, increased reconstruction funding, and more resources to support the work of the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
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. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
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. . . .