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12/3/2014 - World Health Organization Calls For an End to Virginity Tests
A recently released handbook by the World Health Organization (WHO) states "virginity tests" - a "two-finger test" used to determine whether or not a woman has had sex or has been sexually assaulted - has no scientific basis and should never be used. In the handbook, WHO stated that virginity tests used on women and girls to "prove" virginity have "no scientific validity" and pointed out that the tests violate international human rights standards against degrading treatment and are a form of discrimination against women. "Prejudice and negative stereotypes against women and girls are passed off as medical science by many doctors who wrongly believe they can determine a woman's virginity," said Liesl Gerntholtz, who is the director of women's rights at HRW....

11/21/2014 - UN Expert Calls for Action To End Violence Against Women in Afghanistan
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Rashida Manjoo returned last week from a nine-day official visit in Afghanistan with a call to the Afghan Government and the international community to continue its focus on creating sustainable solutions to reduce violence against women. This was Manjoo's third visit to Afghanistan, and the Special Rapporteur noted many positive developments since her travel to the country in 1999, during the Taliban regime, and in 2005. In particular, Manjoo cited the creation of the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law (EVAW) by presidential decree in 2009 as "a key step towards the elimination of violence against women and girls."EVAW criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women - including rape, child and forced marriage, domestic violence, trafficking, and forced self-immolation - and specifies punishment for perpetrators....

11/18/2014 - Afghan Women's Rights Leader and Parlimentarian Survives Suicide Bombing Attack
Afghan law maker and prominent women's rights leader Shukria Barakzai survived a suicide bombing attack on her armed vehicle on Sunday, November 16....

11/11/2014 - Largest USAID Women's Empowerment Program in the World Launched in Afghanistan
The United States Agency for International Development launched its largest women's empowerment program in the world on Saturday....

10/27/2014 - Mullah Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Rape Under Afghanistan's EVAW Law
Judge Mohammad Suliman Rasuli sentenced Mullah Mohammad Amin - a religious leader from Afghanistan - to 20 years in prison Saturday for the rape of a 10-year-old girl in Kunduz province. Mullah Amin admitted to having sex with the girl, whose name has not been released, but claimed that the child had seduced him....

10/21/2014 - Afghanistan's New First Lady Advances Women's Issues
Just a few days after moving to the presidential palace, Afghanistan's new First Lady Rula Ghani said that she hopes to encourage greater respect for women. Rula Ghani already broke tradition by participating in her husband, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's, campaign for President....

10/20/2014 - Jay Leno Receives Mark Twain Prize, Salutes Mavis and Her Work for Women's Rights
Former long-time host of "The Tonight Show" Jay Leno saluted his wife, Mavis, for her work on behalf of women's rights around the world when he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor this weekend at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The Mark Twain prize is awarded for comedic achievement, and the event, where Leno performed a monologue and paid tribute to the many comedians he has worked with throughout his career, brought together supporters of the The John F....

10/1/2014 - Afghanistan and US Finalize Bilateral Security Agreement
In a nationally televised ceremony at the Presidential Palace just one day after President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai took office, Afghanistan signed a major security agreement with the United States....

9/29/2014 - Hope for Afghan Women as New President is Sworn In
Ashraf Ghani, who has publicly and consistently stated his support for women's rights and women's participation in government, was sworn in as the new President of Afghanistan today at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. Over 1000 national and international guests attended the ceremony, including high-ranking officials from the United Nations and 34 countries and a delegation from the United States....

9/22/2014 - New President and National Unity Government Announced in Afghanistan
The Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced yesterday that the Afghan people have elected Dr....

9/9/2014 - Court Sentences Seven Men for Gang Rape in Afghanistan
An Afghan court convicted seven men for the gang rape and robbery of four women in Paghman district near the city of Kabul. According to reports, a group of men - some dressed in police uniforms and carrying assault rifles - stopped a group of cars traveling in Paghman last month, pulled the women from their cars, and raped them in a nearby field....

9/5/2014 - Afghan Girls Compete in Bike Race to Raise Awareness About Violence Against Women
Over a hundred people celebrated the August 25th "Orange Day to End Violence" with a bicycle race in Bamyan, Afghanistan hosted by the nonprofit organization Shuhada. Fifteen girls participated in the race to raise awareness about violence against women....

8/26/2014 - 92 Million Dollar Project Will Improve Higher Education in Afghanistan
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a $92 million project to improve the higher education system in Afghanistan last week. The University Support and Workforce Development Project (USWDP) represents a five-year plan between USAID and the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) and Ministry of Economy to improve Afghanistan's educational programs according to international standards....

8/19/2014 - Afghanistan Celebrates 95th Anniversary of Independence
Afghanistan celebrates 95 years of independence today. President Hamid Karzai, along with the two presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, attended a special ceremony at the Ministry of Defense to commemorate the recognition of Afghanistan as an independent nation by the British Empire....

6/16/2014 - High Turnout in Afghanistan's Presidential Runoff Election
Over seven million Afghans, or 58 percent of the population, successfully voted in the runoff presidential election on Saturday, despite several attacks from the Taliban at polling centers. "The participation of men and women across the country demonstrates, once again, the commitment of the Afghan people to shape the future of their country and to reject violence and intimidation," Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. Because none of the presidential candidates won at least 50 percent of the vote in the April election, a runoff was held between the top two contenders - Abdullah Abdullah, who won 44.9 percent of the vote in the first election, and Ashraf Ghani Amadzai, who came in second with 31.5 percent. The Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) will announce preliminary results for the runoff election on July 2 and expect the final results to be announced on July 22....

6/13/2014 - Women of Afghanistan Push Equality on the Eve of Runoff Presidential Election
Afghan women's groups Thursday held a press conference announcing that both of the presidential front-runners had signed a six-point petition for women's rights....

6/5/2014 - US Support of Afghanistan Will Continue Even As Troops Drawdown
President Obama announced last week that 9,800 United States military troops will remain in Afghanistan through the end of 2015 to help train and advise Afghan security forces, as well as assist in counter-terrorism operations....

4/28/2014 - Afghan Election May be Headed for Runoff
Preliminary results for Afghanistan's recent presidential election were released on Saturday, showing that former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister and World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai are the top contenders. The Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced that Abdullah Abdullah, who lost the election in 2009 to outgoing president Hamid Karzai, won 44.9 percent of the vote....

4/16/2014 - Female Afghan Parliamentarian Injured in Shooting Attack
Maryam Koofi, a member of Afghanistan's Parliament, was wounded in a shooting yesterday....

4/7/2014 - Millions of Afghans Vote in Historic Elections
High turnout, low levels of violence, and strong participation by women, all combined Saturday to make the closely watched Afghan presidential and provincial council elections a success. Over 7 million Afghan men and women voted in these historic elections - representing a staggering 60% voter participation rate, close to the 62% participation rate in the US presidential election in 2008 and more than the 58% participation rate in the US in 2012....

4/4/2014 - Afghanistan Heads to the Polls Tomorrow
Afghanistan will hold presidential and provincial council elections tomorrow....

3/21/2014 - 13,000 Women Will Work to Secure Polling Centers on Afghanistan's Election Day
The Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoIA) announced this week that it has recruited 13,000 women to work on security procedures at polling centers for the upcoming April 5 presidential election day....

3/6/2014 - US Honors Afghan Doctor as an International Woman of Courage
Dr....

2/28/2014 - Female Afghan Parliamentarian Speaks Out About Women's Progress in Afghanistan
Fawzia Koofi, a female member of the Afghan parliament, published an open letter this week to American women, urging them to continue standing shoulder-to-shoulder with women in Afghanistan. Koofi's letter, entitled "A Letter to My American Sisters," dispels the media myth that women's lives have not improved since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001....

2/26/2014 - Afghan Ministry of Justice Amends Criminal Procedure Code to Protect Women Victims of Violence
Afghanistan's Ministry of Justice (MOJ) amended a controversial provision of the draft Afghan Criminal Procedure Code - Article 26 - that would have barred relatives from testifying against each other in criminal proceedings, including in cases of domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault....