19 JANUARY 2024
Following the 7 October 2023 brutal attack by Hamas on Israel, and the ensuing Israeli military bombardment of Gaza, UN Women has worked to analyse the differentiated impact on women, men, boys, and girls, to ensure adequate responses to their needs.
In Israel, the October 7 attack killed some 1,200 people, including many women and at least 33 children. UN Women is alarmed by the numerous accounts of gender-based atrocities and sexual violence during those attacks, and since. In addition, some 250 people, including approximately 65 women, were abducted.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza have spent months living under unbearable conditions. Nearly 1 million women and girls have been displaced, and more than 24,620 Palestinians have been killed. UNICEF have called Gaza the “most dangerous place to be a child”.
The Gaza crisis is impacting women and girls at unprecedented levels with loss of life and catastrophic levels of humanitarian needs. This is the main conclusion of the “Gender Alert: The Gendered Impact of the Crisis in Gaza” issued by UN Women.
More than 24,620 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza1, about 16,000 of whom were women or children. The number of people killed has tripled the total of the previous 15 years combined. And the demographic percentage has been shifted: around 70 per cent of people killed in Gaza are today estimated to be women and children, including 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”, highlighted UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous in a statement released on 19 January 2024.
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.
UN Women calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire as well as the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and sustained and unrestricted humanitarian access to facilitate the entry and provision of assistance, including food, water, fuel, and health supplies at the scale required to meet the full needs of women and girls in the Gaza Strip.