Close to 493,000 women, girls impacted in Gaza: UN Women

Close to 493,000 women, girls impacted in Gaza: UN Women

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Close to 493,000 women and girls are already displaced from their homes in Gaza following the ongoing conflict, according to the estimates of UN Women's 'Rapid Assessment and Humanitarian Response in the Occupied Palestinian Territory'. (Photo by Ayman Nobani/Xinhua)

New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) Close to 493,000 women and girls are already displaced from their homes in Gaza following the ongoing conflict, according to the estimates of UN Women's 'Rapid Assessment and Humanitarian Response in the Occupied Palestinian Territory'.

Additionally, the violence has tragically resulted in a growing number of widows, as an estimated 900 women have become the heads of households following their male partner's death.

Following the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel and the ensuing Israeli attacks on Gaza, UN Women has analyzed the differentiated impact on women, men, boys, and girls, to ensure adequate responses to their needs.

If no ceasefire is achieved, these numbers will continue to rise.

Sarah Hendriks, UN Women Deputy Executive Director, said: "UN Women has called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid including food, water, fuel, and health supplies that are critical for the survival of women and girls in the Gaza Strip.

"It is imperative that we ensure immediate access to services for women and girls and ensure the prevention of gender-based violence. As the international community seeks to respond to this crisis, we must also wholeheartedly support and invest in women-led organizations which are at the frontline of the humanitarian response and promote the meaningful participation of women in humanitarian and political processes."

The significant, largely displaced population of women and girls and new female-headed households, have unique and urgent needs and vulnerabilities that must be recognized and addressed.

These vulnerabilities are rooted in structural gender discrimination, including laws in Palestine that assume women to be under the protection and guardianship of men.

This legal framework increases the risks women face, including gender-based violence and food insecurity, making them more likely than men to live in substandard temporary shelters when displaced, and less likely to access financial assets or documentation, it said.

Currently, women and girls are seeking refuge in overcrowded shelters that lack essential provisions such as food, water, and privacy heightening protection risks.

Even prior to the current crisis, the situation in Gaza was desperate, with 97 per cent of men and 98 per cent of women fearing for their safety, the agency said.

Depression levels among women and men were high due to unemployment and a deep sense of hopelessness, and 54 per cent of Gaza's men, the highest numbers across the Middle East, showed signs of anxiety and depression.

The Women's Peace and Humanitarian Fund, which is a partnership between the United Nations, member states, and civil society, to support women-led and women's rights organizations working to build peace and provide humanitarian response throughout the world, has also launched an emergency appeal for Palestine to support local women's organizations.

UN Women remains present on the ground ready to provide support and assistance.

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