The Gaza crisis is impacting women and girls at unprecedented levels with loss of life and catastrophic levels of humanitarian needs, finds UN Women’s “Gender Alert: The Gendered Impact of the Crisis in Gaza”.
Nearly 25,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. Around 70 percent of the people killed in Gaza are estimated to be women and children, including two mothers per hour killed since the beginning of the crisis.
More than 1.9 million people, or 85 percent of the total population of Gaza, are believed to have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza — roughly 2.2 million people — is in crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity, it says.
UN Women estimates that at least 3,000 women may have become widows and heads of households, 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.
“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,” stated UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous in a statement.
In the past 15 years, two-thirds of all civilians killed in the occupied Palestinian territory were men. Less than 14 percent were women and girls. That percentage has reversed in the current crisis. Today, 70 percent of those killed are women and children, she added.
“These are people, not numbers, and we are failing them. That failure, and the generational trauma inflicted on the Palestinian people over these 100 days and counting, will haunt us all for generations to come.”
Bahous called for an end to the war in Gaza.
“However much we mourn the situation of the women and girls of Gaza today, we will mourn further tomorrow without unrestricted humanitarian assistance and an end to the destruction and killing. … I call again for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire and unhindered humanitarian access for all those in Gaza, including the provision of vital assistance and services to all women and girls,” she continued.
“This is a time for peace. We owe this to all Israeli and Palestinian women and girls. This is not their conflict. They must no longer pay its price.”
Women-led and women’s rights organizations continue to operate despite the escalation of hostilities, according to the report.
Some 83 percent 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 only 0.09 percent of funding has directly gone to national or local women’s rights organizations.
Through a six-month response plan, UN Women in Palestine has been providing life-saving 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, according to the report.