President Hamid Karzai is preparing to appoint Afghanistan’s first female provincial governor, his spokesperson announced Tuesday.

The spokesperson confirmed that Karzai will select the governor of the central Bamiyan province from an all-female shortlist which includes Habiba Sarobi, a well-known human rights activist who served as Afghanistan’s Minister of Women’s Affairs. No decision has been made yet.

The move is being seen as an important step towards giving women rights that were denied to them under the former Taliban government. Equality before the law is embedded in Afghanistan’s new constitution, and seats are also reserved for women in the two-chamber parliament to be installed by elections this year. Karzai, however, has also been criticized for including only three women in his new, nearly 30-member Cabinet.

Other reasons to Cheer this week:

— Two Palm Beach women who were victims of an office video voyeur won $1 million awards Tuesday from a circuit court jury. A coworker claimed to have recorded Patti Kidder and Katherine Dean using a secret video camera mounted under a mail desk in the office. Even though the perpetrator was fired from the company, Ocwen Financial Corp., Kidder and Dean were subjected to insults and jokes regarding the video tape from managers and co-workers. They sued Ocwen for sexual harassment, for permitting a hostile workplace and for job retaliation.

— After years of denying it had a problem with trafficking in humans, Japan is now working on a law that would make the practice illegal in the country and help foreigners forced into the sex industry, reports The New York Times. The new law, along with programs to assist victims testifying against traffickers, could minimize the illegal flow of women into one of the world’s most common destinations for foreign prostitutes.

For more information:

National Organization for Women–
Bush Says Happy Valentine’s Day with a Dozen Dreadful Judicial Re-Nominees:


President Bush renominated 20 failed judicial nominees on Monday, the majority of whom are anti-choice. The candidates included William Pryor, who called the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history,” and “the day seven members of our high court ripped the Constitution and ripped out the life of millions of unborn children”; Janice Rogers Brown, who voted in favor of California’s parental consent statute; and William Myers, whose nomination has been formally opposed by the National Organization for Women and the National Partnership for Women and Families and has been met with concern by 11 women’s rights and family planning organizations. Some of the leading pro-choice senators have stated that they will use filibusters against the nominees they consider too extreme.

Another reason to Jeer:

–February 14 marked the first day of National Condom Week. Yet Congress appropriated about $130 million in 2005 to sponsor “abstinence-only education” (up $30 million from 2004). In addition, the Bush administration has withdrawn $34 million annually since July 2002 for the UNFPA, an international organization that has been providing contraceptives and reproductive health services to the poorest people in the developing world that are at the highest risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.

Corrie Pikul is a Women’s eNews intern and freelance writer based in New York City.