#IWD2024: Palestinian women experiencing 'darkest of days' amid Gaza war

#IWD2024: Palestinian women experiencing 'darkest of days' amid Gaza war
As the world marks International Women's Day, the plight of Gazan women, who face death, lack of basic needs and dehumanisation, is highlighted.
3 min read
08 March, 2024
Women in Gaza are faced with brutal conditions as Israel wages its war in the Strip, killing them and depriving them of basic needs [Getty/file photo]

Palestinian women are living through the "darkest of days in the history of the country", outgoing Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on Thursday, as International Women’s Day (IWD) is marked globally.

Shtayyeh said that Palestinian women are "mourning their loved ones, being killed, displaced, hungry and deprived of the most basic human rights in full views and hearing of the world" in a glaring statement issued for IWD, which is observed internationally on 8 March.

Palestinian women in Gaza have been subject to death, grief, brutality, and a lack of medical care at the hands of Israeli forces, as well as a crippling blockade, since Israel’s indiscriminate military campaign began on 7 October.

"We remind those celebrating this anniversary around the world and those singing about women's rights, that in Palestine there are 9,000 martyrs, in addition to tens of thousands of injured and orphan women, about a million displaced women, and hundreds of female detainees," he added.

The number of women killed by Israel's lethal war in Gaza, amounts to roughly one-third of the death toll which currently stands at 30,878, with an average of 63 women losing their lives every day, according to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

Thirty-seven of those women are mothers, leaving more and more Gazan children without their crucial provider and pillar of support.

There are approximately 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza, many of whom are at risk of malnutrition due to acute food shortages, endangering both fetal growth and the health of expectant mothers.

Moreover, Gaza’s pregnant women have no choice but to give birth in catastrophic circumstances, amid the backdrop of Israeli bombs, in overcrowded shelters and in the very few remaining hospitals that are barely functioning.

In January, UNICEF described giving birth in Gaza as "hell", with scores of women miscarrying due to the current circumstances.

Displaced women are also faced with the risk of malnutrition, dehydration and other illnesses due to insufficient amounts of food, water and basic essentials. 

A severe shortage of feminine hygiene products has also put Gazan women at risk of disease. Women in the war-hit enclave have said that they often spend days looking for sanitary pads and other hygiene equipment in shops and pharmacies, to little avail.

Over 690,000 women and girls have no privacy while menstruating, and have only limited access to hygiene supplies.

shelter areas, only 24 have separate showers for men and women, while 61 have no showers at all.

As though trying to survive a deadly war wasn't challenging enough, Palestinian women are also faced with degrading treatment at the hands of Israeli soldiers. Social media has been rife with images of soldiers posing with Palestinian women’s underwear, in a bid to dehumanise them even further, as they destroy and pillage their homes.

Furthermore, some Palestinian women detained by the Israeli army have been subjected to strip searches, another form of power abuse and dehumanisation.

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"Let the Palestinian women live on March 8 every day, with freedom, dignity, national independence, safety and security, and may the double standards and double standards fall," Shttayeh added in his statement.

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini also echoed Shttayeh's sentiments. On X, formerly known as Twitter, the Commissioner-General, said he was "profoundly saddened" that women in Gaza "continue to endure the consequences of this brutal war".

Lazzarini made calls for an immediate ceasefire in his statement, calling it the "bare minimum".

Additionally, several feminist groups and human rights activists have stressed the plight of Gazan women suffering through war on the occasion of International Women's Day, urging for immediate action to ease their suffering.