UNICEF Declares State of Acute Emergency for Afghan Women and Children
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has declared a state of 'acute emergency' for women and children in Afghanistan due to unacceptably high maternal and child mortality rates. UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia Cecilia Lotse said that among children, girls in particular are "very vulnerable," with one in five children dieing before the age of five from illness and malnutrition.
UNICEF reports that 1,600 out of every 100,000 women die giving birth or as a result of related complications, as compared to 7 deaths per 100,000 in industrialized countries. In some parts of Afghanistan, maternal mortality rates are as high as 6,000 per 100,000, Lotse reported. "Afghan women don't live long lives," said Lotse. "Afghanistan may be the one country in the world where women die before men."
In addition to its high child and maternal mortality rates, illiteracy among women and girls in Afghanistan is as high as 85 percent, according to UNICEF. Courageous Afghan women continue to build and sustain girls' schools despite violent attacks. Girls' enrollment in secondary schools is still under 10 percent. Girls were prohibited from attending school under the Taliban and were permitted to return to school when the Taliban were ousted in 2001. Since then, over 40 girls' schools have been bombed, set on fire, or violently attacked. Expansion of peacekeeping and security forces in Afghanistan is urgently needed to ensure girls' continued return to school.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
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. . . .