President Hamid Karzai recently announced twenty-seven ministers that will serve in his new Cabinet, including three women. The only female presidential candidate to run in Afghanistan's first post-Taliban elections, Dr. Masooda Jalal, was named the Minister of Women's Affairs. Jalal, a medical doctor, was also the only women to run for president of the Interim Afghan Government. According to the Associated Press, Jalal received death threats during her campaign for the presidency.
Sediqa Balkhi, the second woman named to serve in the Karzai Cabinet, will be the Minister of Martyrs and Disabled. Balkhi was one of three women who participated in the December 2001 Bonn Conference that outlined the formation of the post-Taliban government in Afghanistan. During the Taliban years, Balkhi led the Afghan Women's Political and Cultural Activities Center in Iran. She is also a former teacher who has a bachelor's degree in Islamic Studies.
The Youth Affairs Ministry was created to address the issues and problems confronted by Afghan youth who have lived through years of war. This new ministry will be led by Amina Afzali, a woman who also participated in the Bonn Conference in December 2001. Afzai served on the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the commission that drafted the new Afghan constitution.
Both Balkhi and Afzali participated in the Afghan Women’s Summit for Democracy convened in Brussels in December 2001 by Western feminist organizations including Equality Now, the European Women’s Lobby, V-Day and the Feminist Majority Foundation.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .