Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the Afghan Women Empowerment Act of 2006 last week, which authorizes funding for the Afghan Ministry of Women's Affairs, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC, and Afghan women-led nonprofit organizations (NGOs) to promote the rights of women and to provide services for women and girls in Afghanistan. The Act seeks to strengthen institutions that promote and protect women’s rights and nonprofit organizations led by Afghan women as “essential to building civil society and holding the Government of Afghanistan accountable for protecting women’s rights and human rights.” It specifically authorizes the President to appropriate $10 million each year for three years for the AIHRC, $5 million each year for the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and $30 million each year to be used by Afghan women-led NGOs to provide adult literacy, technical training, health care, education, and other critically needed services to women and girls throughout Afghanistan.
In introducing the Act, Senator Boxer stated, “I am pleased to introduce legislation today – as we celebrate International Women’s Day – to strengthen and empower the women and girls of Afghanistan… More than four years after the invasion of Afghanistan and the fall of the Taliban government, the women of Afghanistan still face significant hurdles as they seek to realize their full potential.” Boxer also cited the increasing threats to Afghan women and their rights as she stated that, “perhaps most troubling, the security situation for women is getting worse – threatening to slow or even reverse the gains that Afghan women have made over the past four years.”
The Feminist Majority, through its Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls, has advocated strongly for direct funding for Afghan women-led nonprofit organizations and for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Independent Human Rights Commission. Legislation authorizing this direct funding was passed in 2002 but it is about to expire, creating the need for new legislation if the United States is to continue to support the women and girls of Afghanistan in their efforts to regain their rights.
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. . . .