International Women’s Day 2024 – Women and girls in Gaza  

Since October 7th, Gazans have faced ongoing bombardment, forced displacement and an increasing risk of famine. Women and girls bear the brunt of these hardships; of the 30,000 people killed, approximately 70% of them are women and children.  

Since celebrating International Women’s Day last Friday, we wanted to shed light on the dire situation for women and girls in Gaza. ICDI is committed to empowering women and girls around the world and advocating for their rights. At ICDI, gender equity stands as one of our four transversal approaches, ingrained in all of our programmes and work.  

ICDI stands with millions of organisations and individuals worldwide asking for an immediate and permanent ceasefire as well as the unrestricted entry of humanitarian aid to meet the needs of people in Gaza.  

Women and girls in Gaza  

Every day, an estimated 180 women give birth in Gaza, often in unsafe conditions. There is no pre- or post-natal care, let alone medical staff to support women in labour. Reports paint a distressing picture of women enduring childbirth without access to pain relief or proper hygiene, some even undergoing c-sections without anaesthesia. Miscarriages and stillbirths are on the rise due to stress and shock. Lack of food, clean water, and shelter, means that mothers are struggling to produce milk and to keep their infants warm.  

Women and girls in Gaza lack access to washing facilities, privacy, sanitary products and pain medication, making it difficult for them to manage their periods. UNRWA estimates that there is only one shower and four toilets for every 2,000 people. Reports describe people being forced to re-use pads or use scraps of tent material and clothing to manage their periods. The conditions put women and girls at risk for toxic shock and infection. It also strips them of their dignity.  

As the war continues, the risk of gender-based violence increases, due to the strain put on families and communities. Women face greater care responsibilities, whether as new widows or as caregivers for family members who are elderly or disabled and can’t move.  

“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.”  

– Sima Bahous, UN Women Executive Director

Although the situation is difficult for everyone in Gaza, including men and boys, we focus our attention on the women and girls. Although International Women’s Day has come and gone, we must keep the conversation going about what’s needed for achieving gender equity. We remind readers that feminism is about all women, which means women from all countries and all cultures having equal rights and opportunities.  

Al Jazeera. (2024, March 5). Israel-Gaza war in maps and charts: Live Tracker. Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/longform/2023/10/9/israel-hamas-war-in-maps-and-charts-live-tracker  

Al-Mughrabi, N. (2023, November 10). In Gaza, hospital procedures without anaesthetics prompted screams, … Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/gaza-hospital-procedures-without-anaesthetics-prompted-screams-prayers-2023-11-10/  

Awadallah, A. (2024, February 29). The forgotten women and girls in Gaza: A sexual and reproductive health catastrophe – occupied Palestinian territory. ReliefWeb. https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/forgotten-women-and-girls-gaza-sexual-and-reproductive-health-catastrophe  

Mousa, A. (2024, March 5). “My period has become a nightmare”: Life in Gaza without sanitary products. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2024/mar/05/my-period-has-become-nightmare-life-in-gaza-without-sanitary-products   

Sky News. (2024, January 21). Women in Gaza having C-sections without painkillers as girls use tent scraps for period products. Sky News. https://news.sky.com/story/women-and-girls-in-gaza-using-scraps-of-tent-material-in-place-of-period-products-13053083   

UN Women (2024, January). Gender alert: The gendered impact of the crisis in Gaza. UN Women. https://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2024/01/gender-alert-the-gendered-impact-of-the-crisis-in-gaza  

United Nations. (2023, November 22). Two thirds of Gaza war dead are women and children, briefers say, as Security Council debates their plight | meetings coverage and press releases. United Nations. https://press.un.org/en/2023/sc15503.doc.htm  

Walker, A. R. (2024, February 7). “This is a war on birth”: How one US organisation helps pregnant Palestinians from afar. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/feb/07/gaza-pregnant-women-safe-birth-in-palestine-project