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What the women of Gaza want you to know this International Women’s Day

Gaza: Fidaa Shurrab, Director of Projects at Atfaluna for Deaf Society in Rafah stands in front of a destroyed building in Gaza strip while going to work. Photo: Alef Multimedia/Oxfam

This Friday 8 March is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to honour women and their achievements while noting that our society is still not a safe, equal place for women. This is especially true for women living through humanitarian crises. 

In times of crisis and conflict, women face unique challenges. These can include an increased threat of gender-based violence, limited access to reproductive health services, menstrual health products, and complications with pregnancy and childbirth. If they are parents, they also face the constant stress and uncertainty of keeping their children safe and healthy. 

This International Women’s Day, we want to amplify the voices of women in Gaza. Women who are surviving and caring for their communities in the face of displacement, bombardment and chaos. 

Khloud Jwefil, Oxfam Economic Justice Programme Support Officer

“The situation in Gaza is catastrophic. Women and children always pay the highest price of every conflict. As a mum caring for my child, I find ways to cope. I spend the whole day trying to find things for my son, like milk and food. On International Women’s Day my wish is for Palestinian women in Gaza to have a peaceful life, to have clean water, medical services and sufficient food for their children and family.” 

Ameera*, community member

“I was displaced to my family home, then to my husband’s family house, and finally to a tent in the al-Mawasi area along with five family members. My child, mother, sister, and I stay on two mattresses on the ground. It is uncomfortable for me, being pregnant.” 

“The food is unhealthy. There is no medical care. I cannot follow up my pregnancy with a specific doctor or gynaecologist … I have never been able to undergo regular medical checks due to the absence of available medical services. The only time I went to a doctor, he told me about the small baby size. They should be bigger.” 

“I constantly have nightmares about delivering a baby while the hospital is under attack.” 

Buthaina Sobh, Executive Director of Wefaq Association for Women and Children Care 

Gaza: Buthaina Sobh a 52 year old, Executive Director of Wefaq Association for Women and Children Care and mother of three, in Rafah. Sobh is known for her unwavering determination, particularly evident in her tireless efforts during these challenging times. Photo: Alef Multimedia/ Oxfam

“We monitored many cases of women and girls living in harsh displacement conditions. Some of them line up for the bathroom for hours, and some of them walk long distances to fill gallons of water … women are enduring unimaginable hardships, resorting to open spaces for necessities.” 

Ihsan*, community member

“My 13-year-old daughter, Jody, began her period while we were in the shelter … The lack of sanitary pads has pushed me to resort to alternative options like tissue paper. I borrow from other women when I can, but the situation remains dire. Sometimes, I have to change my pad less frequently than necessary, causing me great distress. When my daughter started her period, our suffering intensified. The pressures and psychological strain have even caused menstrual irregularities for me.” 

“Our story is just one among many during this devastating conflict. We endure each day resiliently, clinging to hope despite our overwhelming challenges. May the world hear our voices and work towards a future where families like mine can find safety, stability, and the necessities of life.” 

Raya*, community member

“Bringing new life into this war-torn world, I gave birth in a makeshift tent, surrounded by the echoes of explosions and the absence of proper medical care. The lack of essential supplies, including clean water and medical resources, intensified the already daunting experience. As I brought my child into this world, a mixture of joy and anguish flooded my heart, for they were born into a reality marred by violence, war, and deprivation.” 

“In the wake of destruction, my once vibrant home lies reduced to rubble. The loss of my sanctuary, where cherished memories were forged, weighs heavy on my soul. Every shattered piece, every corner of my house holds a story, a fragment of the life we had built. It leaves me with an indescribable ache of emptiness and shattered dreams.” 

Fidaa al-Araj, Oxfam Food Security, Cash & Protection Coordinator

Gaza: Fidaa Shurrab, Director of Projects at Atfaluna for Deaf Society in Rafah stands in front of a destroyed building in Gaza strip while going to work. Photo: Alef Multimedia/Oxfam

“As I mother, I fear for my children every moment of every day and night. Most night I can’t sleep for imagining, what if my kids are hit next, what if I lose one of them, what if they lose me. It’s a constant feat that I can’t overcome. I can’t feel safe, not for a minute, not for my children. I wake up every morning and I don’t know who I am going to lose today. It is very exhausting to try to cope, to find the motivation to get up every morning and continue your life. We are hanging on by a thread of hope. I don’t know how much longer it can hold.” 

Yasmine*, community member

“I was so depressed during those last months of my pregnancy. A pregnant woman needs many things in her last trimester, but there isn’t enough food or clean water. I was in labour, and all I could hear was the warplanes roaring overhead, the shelling. There was fear everywhere.” 

Tahani Abu Daqqa, a former Palestinian Authority minister of Youth and Culture 

“We are lucky because we evacuated earlier to Mawasi but I don’t feel safe. I have been close to death many times. I am working to help people, I built a camp for 1,300 families, mostly women and children. I try to supply food, by collecting money from family and friends. I bought mattresses and blankets, but there are not enough in the market and its very expensive. I have been working for peace for around 40 years. I am looking for peace. I hope that all the women, all the people in the world support a ceasefire to stop the war and make a just and fair peace agreement. Women in Gaza are desperate.” 

Women — and all people in Gaza — need a permanent and immediate ceasefire. In the meantime, Oxfam and our partners are providing life-saving humanitarian aid to Gazans. This includes support specifically targeted to women and people who menstruate, including menstrual health products, mother and baby kits to support new mothers and protection services for people at risk, including gender-based violence survivors. 

This International Women’s Day, you can donate to support this critical work. As the conflict rages on, we’ll continue to keep you updated on what’s going on, the work we’re delivering and how you can help. You can also read regular updates on our dedicated Gaza page.