Congress approves $82 billion for Iraq, Afghanistan. Voice of America reports: 'The U.S. House of Representatives has given final approval to a bill to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure would also tighten immigration law. The $82 billion supplemental spending bill is a compromise between separate measures passed by the House and Senate earlier this year. Most of the funding is to pay for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.' (VOA)
Chrenkoff: Good news and bad. Arthur Chrenkoff reminds us Why We Fight: 'As you're reading the latest installment of "Good news from Afghanistan", remember that every Islamofascist killed or detained, every new school opened throughout the country, and every vote cast in a democratic election is a step forward against this: "Authorities have found the bodies of three Afghan women, one of whom worked for an aid group, who were raped, strangled and dumped with a warning for women not to work for such groups ...The bodies were dumped near a road outside Pul-i-Khumri city, the provincial capital of Baghlan ... One of the three was a 25 year-old woman who until recently worked for a Bangladeshi non-governmental organisation (NGO) involved in providing micro credit, mostly to widows. ..." ' Meanwhile, there's plenty to keep us busy in the latest installment of Good News from Afghanistan:
To struggle to improve women's rights continues. In Herat, women slowly and step by step are trying to break through the old barriers:
"A new plan in Herat to teach women to drive and give them licenses is at once a symbol of the official rights women continue to win in Afghanistan and a reminder of the difficulties they still confront in exercising those freedoms...
"Now, for the first time in memory, shops in Herat are hiring women to sell their wares. Women's fitness clubs are popping up along the city's leafy avenues. And ever more women are trading their burqas, the head-to-toe garment worn in public, for an Iranian-style shawl, or chador, which covers the hair and body but not the face."
In Bamyan province:
"The new governor sounds like a typical politician, promising paved roads, electricity, jobs and water, just like the last governor.
"But the new governor of Bamiyan is anything but ordinary. Habiba Sorabi is a woman, the first female provincial governor in Afghanistan's tortured history. Her appointment by the president marks a step forward for Afghan women, oppressed even before the Taliban forced them to stop working and beat them for showing skin.
" 'Thank God a thousand times,' said Massoma, a woman of about 40, who like many Afghans does not have a last name, as she sat near an unpaved road in Bamiyan, hoping that someone would give her a ride. 'Women are more powerful than men in this country,' added her daughter, Marzia, 22. 'If God wills it, they'll do better things'."
You can read more about Habiba Sorabi here:
"As the new governor of Bamian province in central Afghanistan, Habiba Sorabi has a clear idea of what she hopes to accomplish. She wants to build roads, open schools and supply electricity to residents of the province, located about 200 kilometres west of Kabul. She also hopes to lure visitors to this poor, war-ravaged region, despite the fact that its most famous tourist attractions - two huge, 1,600-year-old stone Buddhas - were destroyed by the Taleban in 2001.
"Sorabi has already gone a long way toward accomplishing one of her primary goals - raising the status of women in society - simply by being appointed the first female governor in the country in March."
The example is spreading slowly to other, significantly more conservative, parts of the country:
"She can't leave the house without an all-covering blue burqa, many of her relatives are scandalised, but Shahida Hussain is preparing to stand for parliament anyway.
"The 50-year-old women's rights activist who lives in the Taleban spiritual heartland of Afghanistan is one of at least two women in the southern city of Kandahar who are preparing to stand for elections in Afghanistan's parliamentary polls on September 18."
Read the whole article; there's plenty more there about women's political ambitions in the Pashtun south of Afghanistan.
Go read it all. (Chrenkoff)