US Watchdog Urges Improvement of US Strategy in Afghanistan
The General Accounting Office (GAO) recently issued a report stating that while US humanitarian and short-term assistance benefited Afghanistan in fiscal years 2002 and 2003, longer-term reconstruction projects achieved limited results due to late funding and lack of a comprehensive reconstruction strategy. The report, entitled “Afghanistan Reconstruction: Deteriorating Security and Limited Resources Have Impeded Progress; Improvements in US Strategy Needed,” asserts that in fiscal years 2002-2003 “the post-conflict environment in Afghanistan threatened progress toward US policy goals, and poor security, increasing opium cultivation, and inadequate resources impeded US reconstruction efforts.” In addition, the report states that the “United States used warlord-commanded militias in its continuing counterinsurgency effort against the Taliban” despite warnings from the US Department of State and a leading human rights organization that “the criminality of the warlord’s private armies destabilize[s] the country and impede[s] reconstruction.”
The GAO is urging USAID to revise its operation strategy for its assistance programs in Afghanistan and the Department of State to report to Congress semiannually on all obligations and expenditures for assistance to Afghanistan “in order to determine the extent to which US assistance dollars are being used to achieve measurable results on the ground.” Another problem the GAO found that hindered US reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan during FY2002-2003 included “the small staff size, inadequate working conditions, and the timing of funding for reconstruction activities.”
According to the report, Afghanistan has approximately one health facility per 27,000 people, and nearly 40 percent of the existing clinics providing basis care employ no female health workers. The GAO also noted that several girls’ schools have been set on fire to protest the education of women.
The Feminist Majority is leading the call for increased reconstruction funding and for more resources to support the work of the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Independent Human Rights Commission.
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. . . .