Deployment of Extra Peacekeeping Troops to Afghanistan Still Unclear
Earlier this week, the French and German-led military unit, Eurocorps, took command of NATO peacekeeping forces (ISAF) in Kabul. The transition occurred two months before Afghanistan’s first post-Taliban elections are scheduled to take place. In June, NATO stated that it would increase the size of peacekeeping troops from 6,500 to 10,000 for the elections. It is as yet unclear when the extra troops will be deployed to Afghanistan, according to BBC News. NATO has also said that 40 percent of the force will not actually be deployed, but instead will be based either outside of the country or in barracks in Kabul rather than in the provinces where there is the greatest threat of insecurity.
With limited deployment of peacekeeping troops to Afghanistan, the Taliban and other extremists have become more active. The Taliban have threatened, kidnapped, and killed women’s rights activists and aid workers as a way to derail the first post-Taliban elections scheduled to take place in October. Over the past year, more than 30 aid workers have been murdered. Even with new commitments to ISAF expansion, concerns remain over whether the expansion will be large enough, and also whether the troop size in Kabul will be reduced, a move that many experts say would destabilize the already fragile Afghan central government.
The Feminist Majority Foundation is leading the call for a significant increase in the number of peacekeepers throughout Afghanistan to provide security and stability. Without adequate resources and security, women in Afghanistan will never be able to obtain their rights, and the country will never have sustained peace and democracy.
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. . . .