Voices of Palestinian women must be heard before it’s too late
24 October 2023
As governments from around the world meet in New York for an annual UN debate on Women, Peace and Security, we mark the exclusion of our Palestinian colleagues and remind the world that their voices must be heard.
This week governments are meeting in New York for Women, Peace and Security week. This annual meeting marks the anniversary of UNSCR 1325, the UN Security Council Resolution, passed in 2000 by the UN Security Council, that recognises the impact of conflict on women and girls and commitments to their inclusion in peace and security processes.
Women's rights organisations, leaders, activists, NGOs, UN agencies and governments will all be discussing progress - and lack of progress - and ActionAid colleagues are co-hosting an event with UN Women on Feminist and Youth Movements.
What is obviously missing from these events are the voices of Palestinian women. Our colleagues from ActionAid Palestine are now unable to attend. So here we are sharing the voices of Palestinian women in the hope that by sharing this space they can be heard.
Maya (name changed to protect her identity), shares her testimony of her friend Amal, who lost her son and several family members when her parents' home was bombed in Gaza
"Amal, my friend, my close friend. She’s been married for 12 years. After five years of trying, they weren’t able to conceive. She tried IVF several times.
"They took refuge in her parents' house, but the house was bombed. Her father was killed, her brother, his wife and children also. Her nieces and nephews were all killed.
"God then gave her twins, Adam and Khaled. Adam passed away when he was one month old. She wrote on her Facebook profile: 'My bird in heaven, his name is Adam.'
"Now, seven years later, Khaled became another bird in heaven.
"Her parents’ house was bombed. She evacuated her house to find shelter and protection for her son and herself, since her husband was out of the country. He travelled abroad to work, to make a living. And she stayed home with her son.
"They took refuge in her parent’s house, but the house was bombed. Her father was killed, her brother, his wife and children also. Her nieces and nephews were all killed, and Khaled. Khaled, the boy she had after 12 long years.
"Can you imagine the torment, the tragedy? Khaled remained underneath the rubble for more than 12 hours, when they pulled him out, he was dead.
"Amal now has two birds in heaven; Adam and Khaled."
Wafaa, displaced from her home in Beit Hanoun to Southern Gaza
"I’m Wafaa from Beit Hanoun. At first, we crawled from Beit Hanoun to the agency’s schools in the camp.
"After that, they asked us to leave the camp towards the south.
"We came in a donkey cart, most of the way we went by walking or crawling until we arrived. Most of the way we walked. For water, there is no water, this water here is sea water, and with difficulty, when my husband is able to get a bottle of water, I drink. As you can see, there is no mattress for us to sit on. We sleep with no mattress, blankets, or anything.
"But praise be to God, God willing, we will return to our homes safely. We do not want anything more than that.
Somaya, a pregnant mother who is sheltering in a school near to Deir al Balah, Gaza
"I’m Somaya [surname redacted] ... I was displaced from Beit Hanoun to Jabalia camp and from Jabalia camp [to here] on foot and I am pregnant. [We had] no car, and the bombing was on us. I am now staying under a canvas.
"Look people, I will have a caesarean section. I live in suffering, and when the rain fell on us, we drowned.
"And here I am, I will have a cesarean section, and my children are screaming all night, [while] there is bombing on us. We cannot find even a little water.
"This is the suffering. I have no clothes or belongings and my house was probably bombed. I have no clothes for my newborn. I have nothing, only God is with us. When the baby comes, [it] must be born in a clean place, right? Where is the cleanliness? Where is the cleanliness?"
ActionAid calls for ceasefire
As governments from around the world meet in New York to talk about women's rights, peace and security, we cannot forget Palestinian women. Talking is not enough, action is needed now:
- As world leaders intensify their focus on the unfolding tragedy in Gaza and Israel, we urgently call on them to employ all available means to stop the bombing, ensure a ceasefire is in place, de-escalate the violence and protect civilians, particularly women and girls.
- ActionAid appeals to world leaders to call for the upholding of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), which stands globally to protect civilians' population from any effects of hostilities and indiscriminate violence. IHL needs to be applied to all equally and accountability for adherence needs to be ensured.
Donate to ActionAid's Gaza Crisis Appeal
ActionAid is working with our partners in Gaza who are doing their utmost to provide food and relief items to families that we can reach. Access to supplies is limited and transportation to the shelters is challenging and dangerous for those who are working on the ground.
We’re asking for urgent financial support now, to help us deliver emergency aid.
16 January 2024
8 September 2023
25 July 2023