A prominent Afghan woman leader is one of the recipients of this year's Profile in Courage Awards from the Kennedy Library Foundation, which will be presented at a ceremony in Boston, MA tonight. Dr. Sima Samar has been a leader for women’s rights and human rights in Afghanistan. A physician who defied Taliban edicts and provided Afghan women and girls with health care services and education, she is currently the chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Samar served as Minister of Women's Affairs, one of only two women cabinet members in Afghanistan's transition government. In 2003, Samar was named a "Woman of the Year" by Ms. magazine.
Despite facing strong political opposition, including death threats from fundamentalists, Samar presses forward. As the director of the Shuhada Organization, she also runs twelve clinics and four hospitals for women and children, as well as 55 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, serving 32,000 students. Her organization's programs encompass relief work and literacy education, as well as community education regarding family planning and sanitation.
The Profiles in Courage award is named for the John F. Kennedy Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name. Recipients are selected who demonstrate political courage and a commitment to public service. Along with Dr. Samar, recipients of the award this year include former North Carolina State Representative Cindy Watson (R) and former Oklahoma State Senator Paul Muegge (D).
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. . . .