Cover of "Gender Alert: The Gendered Impact of the Crisis in Gaza". Credit: UN Women. - Photo: 2024

Two Mothers Are Killed in Gaza Every Hour

By Caroline Mwanga

NEW YORK | 19 January 2024 (IDN) — Since 7 October 2023, more than 24,620 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip, 70 per cent of whom were women or children. More than 1.9 million people—85 per cent of the total population of Gaza—have been displaced. The entire population of Gaza—roughly 2.2 million people—are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse, according to UN Women’s “Gender Alert: The Gendered Impact of the Crisis in Gaza”.

This document provides an overview of the situation in Gaza and articulates UN Women’s work as part of its six-month multisectoral response to the crisis. Among the Palestinians killed were about 16,000 women or children. These include two mothers per hour killed since the beginning of the crisis.

“We have seen evidenced once more that women and children are the first victims of conflict and that our duty to seek peace is a duty to them. We are failing them. That failure, and the generational trauma inflicted on the Palestinian people over these 100 days and counting, will haunt all of us for generations to come”, said UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous in a statement released on 19 January.

Gaza is fundamentally a protection crisis for women. Out of the 1.9 million people displaced, close to one million are women and girls, seeking refuge in precarious sheltering conditions, yet nowhere and no one is safe in Gaza. The impossible decisions regarding whether to evacuate, how and when to do so, and where to go are entrenched with gender-differentiated fears and experiences, as gendered risks, including attacks and harassment, emerge along displacement routes.

UN Women estimates that at least 3,000 women may have become widows and heads of households, in urgent need of protection and food assistance, and at least 10,000 children may have lost their fathers. In this context, more women fear that families will resort to desperate coping mechanisms including early marriage.

Women-led and women’s rights organizations continue to operate despite the escalation of hostilities—83 per cent of women’s organizations surveyed in the Gaza Strip are at least partially operational, mainly focusing on the emergency response. However, UN Women’s analysis of funding to the 2023 Flash Appeal reveals that 0.09 per cent of funding has directly gone to national or local women’s rights organizations.

Through the 6-Month Response Plan, UN Women in Palestine has been addressing the crisis by providing life-saving assistance such as emergency food assistance to over 14,000 women-headed households, one-third of all women-headed households in Gaza; and supporting the distribution of clothing, sanitary products, and baby formula.

UN Women is also partnering with women-led organizations to deliver gender responsive services for gender-based violence; establishing women-led protection and response committees in shelters for displaced women; and convening regular consultations with women’s organizations in Palestine, to discuss the challenges they face.

UN Women continues to call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and that no effort be spared to ensure women’s and girls’ protection and safe access to rapid, unimpeded, and gender-responsive humanitarian assistance. UN Women also reiterates its deep concern at the accounts of unconscionable sexual violence and other gender-based violence during the 7 October 2023 attacks, its call for accountability, justice, and support for all those affected, and for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: Cover of “Gender Alert: The Gendered Impact of the Crisis in Gaza”. Credit: UN Women.

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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