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.
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. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .