Last night at the Republican National Convention, Laura Bush, in an obvious appeal to women voters, stated that the Taliban has been removed from Afghanistan, allowing girls to go to school, and women to work. The speech grossly overstated the stability of the nation, as the country is still ravaged by violence, with armed militias and the Taliban itself returning.
Girls’ schools continue to be a target of the Taliban and other fundamentalist groups, with more than 30 attacked in the past two years. Shortly after the start of the current school year, three school girls in southeastern Afghanistan were poisoned with biscuits. The Taliban militia was blamed. According to UNICEF deputy executive director Karin Sham Poo, 4.2 million children are back in school, though girls comprise only 30 percent of primary school students. Further, UNICEF reports that there are still 1.5 million girls who are not benefiting from education, and there are many areas in Afghanistan were there are no schools at all, ININnews.org reports.
The First Lady also stated that 10 million people have registered to vote in Afghanistan, with women accounting for 40 percent. Unfortunately, these figures will not likely reflect the election turnout this October, as a Taliban spokesman said earlier this week that the Taliban has made an “appeal to civilians to stay away from the elections and places where the Americans and coalition are living and working” as ”they are our priority targets."
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said, “Don’t we wish that all is tranquil in Afghanistan? Instead, violence roams and the United States refuses to provide adequate peacekeeping troops.”
The Republican party’s appeal to women voters was undercut by Governor Schwarzenegger’s reference to those who are pessimistic about the economy as “economic girly-men.” “The constant use of this term cannot be ignored,” Smeal said. Despite a blatant appeal to the governor from gay rights and women’s rights groups earlier this summer, Schwarzenegger defiantly used the derogatory term again.
While Laura Bush gave her speech, delegates held signs that read “W stands for Women.” This rhetoric is in direct contradiction to the Bush administration’s record of limiting reproductive rights, attempting to weaken Title IX, under funding No Child Left Behind, and appointing right-wing, anti-women's rights nominees to the federal bench.
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. . . .