Palestinian women-led organizations must be at the forefront of the humanitarian response in Gaza and the West Bank

80% of women in Gaza depend on food assistance to survive, and women-led organizations are uniquely equipped to support them, according to new UN Women Gender Alert.

[Also available in Arabic]

Cairo / New York – UN Women’s latest Gender Alert on the war on Gaza reveals the staggering challenges Palestinian women-led organizations face, highlights their unwavering commitment to save lives, and calls for urgent, coordinated investments in their operations on the ground.

Palestinian women-led organizations must be at the forefront of the humanitarian response in Gaza and the West Bank

Women-led organizations are operating in some of the most dangerous and challenging areas of Gaza and the West Bank. Their extensive community outreach makes them best placed to reach women and girls most in need. Over the past eight months of war, UN Women has published a series of gender alerts documenting how the lives of women and girls have deteriorated across sectors from food security to shelter, health, and safety. New UN Women data collected in April 2024, shows the continued deterioration of women’s basic survival conditions, with over 80 per cent of women interviewed in Gaza reporting a dependency on food assistance, and 83.5 per cent reporting that the assistance they received was insufficient to meet their basic family needs.

Today UN Women launches the fourth Gender Alert, focused on the work of Women-Led Organizations (WLOs). It details the findings of a UN Women assessment of 25 Palestinian women-led organizations operating in Gaza and the West Bank. It shows that, despite this dire situation, these organizations are at the forefront of the humanitarian response. Together, these 25 organizations maintain a network of 1,575 staff members across Gaza and the West Bank. The assessment shows that 89 per cent of the surveyed organizations have experienced damage to their offices, with 35 per cent suffering complete destruction. These offices serve as operational hubs, and are vital for delivering assistance and coordination.

Amid this adversity, close to 60 per cent of organizations report being able to operate at full capacity. Women-led organizations’ commitment to their communities is evident, with 88 per cent having shifted towards emergency relief, providing essential services such as the distribution of non-food item (64 per cent of organizations), food items (56 per cent), cash assistance (48 per cent), and protection-related services, including psychosocial support and case management. While their services are vital and they continue to adapt and adjust their operations, financial struggles are acute, with 56 per cent of women-led organizations reporting decreased funding and 88 per cent facing major financial difficulties, hampering their ability to deliver critical services. 

“The work of women-led organizations in Gaza and the West Bank is as much about the survival of women and girls as it is about maintaining hope, dignity, and the possibility of a better future for those they serve. Investing in their resilience is not just important – it is the key to an inclusive response that leaves no one behind,” said UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous.

In recognizing their pivotal role in crisis and recovery, UN Women and women-led organizations urge the international community and stakeholders to take decisive action: to actively fund women-led organizations, vital for reaching the women and girls most in need; to advocate for increased humanitarian access, enabling these organizations to expand their life-saving responses; and to include women-led organizations in all humanitarian coordination structures to ensure a truly effective and inclusive humanitarian response.