We represent a growing global movement of women’s organizations, women, mothers, children, and allies who urge an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to preserve the lives and welfare of the children in Gaza, and allow mothers and babies access to appropriate medical care. We collectively appeal to western leaders: the United States President: Joe Biden, French President: Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister: Justin Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister: Anthony Albanese, New Zealand Prime Minister: Chris Hipkins.
We echo the pleas from the United Nations, Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, WHO, world leaders and humanitarians across a variety of sectors that international humanitarian law must be upheld, and that civilians must be protected at all times; we are particularly concerned for women, mothers, children, disabled, elderly, and all displaced persons.
Sarah Hendriks, UN Women Deputy Executive Director ad interim has stated, “UN Women has called for 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 the immediate access to services for women and girls and ensure the prevention of gender-based violence.”
Devastatingly, doctors and journalists on the ground in Gaza report that women are giving birth on the floor of hospitals; most without critical access to medications, including anesthesia essential for cesarean surgeries. Premature babies are largely at-risk due to the cut in supply of electricity to hospitals which may soon prevent incubators from being operational. There is no access to safe, clean drinking water, and there is a high risk of starvation for the displaced population of over 2 million people; almost half of whom are under the age of 18.
CNN reported on November 5, 2023 that in Gaza, being a mother is now a matter of life and death and continued that “mothers say they are dealing with the desperate reality that they have no way to protect themselves, or their children, from Israel’s relentless bombardment, which has struck residential areas, hospitals and schools.”
The report highlighted that “Israel’s airstrikes have killed at least 9,155 people in Gaza, according to figures released by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the West Bank city Ramallah, drawn from sources in the Hamas-controlled enclave. The vast majority of fatalities – 73% – are women, children and the elderly, according to the health ministry.”
Further explaining that “Palestinian mothers are balancing their own health care needs with caregiving responsibilities for their children, many of whom are affected by the psychological trauma of war ― So many aspects of motherhood, once routine, are now a matter of life or death.”
Reem Alsalem, United Nations Special Rapporteur, Violence Against Women stated on November 3, 2023:
“Palestinians in Gaza are enduring unspeakable horrors as they are subjected to war crimes, including ethnic cleansing– amongst others. No Mother should give birth in such circumstances that lack dignity, safety, and expose mother and child to further violence.”
Many of the signatories of this plea have experienced first hand the prioritization of violence above the human rights and basic well-being of women and children. We urgently call on global leaders and citizens to advocate for an immediate ceasefire, so this horrific dismissal of human life can be replaced with the restoration of basic human rights, proper medical care and, above all, the prioritization of the lives of children.
Sarah Langston, Independent Disability Advocate (Blue Mountains and Nepean)
Dr Amatul Ali
Sachi Dave Rode
Liz Alley / Survivor Life Stories
North County San Diego for Palestine
Amal El Sabrouty
To join the signatory, see here