By Nidhi Bhogi and Shriya Das
The Israel-Hamas Conflict is an ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas due to tensions from territorial disputes. It started on October 7th, 2023, and in particular, the Gaza Strip is facing devastating attacks as airstrikes leave many neighborhoods destroyed. According to an article by World News, at least 1,400 people living in Israel have died from the start of this conflict. UN Women notes that specifically, about 6000 women have been injured from this conflict and about 493,000 have been displaced from their homes.
Moreover, women face many disparities in the workforce which can contribute to economic challenges. A United Nations report indicates during the first quarter of 2022, women’s unemployment in Palestinian territory reached 40.6% which was about double the amount of men facing unemployment (21.4%). The unemployment rate was very high for young women aged 20 to 24 as many women in the Gaza strip faced joblessness.
The ongoing conflict in Israel only worsens women’s economic situations and leaves many of them poor and unable to have access to good healthcare resources. For example, new mothers and pregnant women are especially at risk due to inadequate access to safe care. The editorial in The BMJ indicates that pregnant women do not have a proper source of transportation to reach a medical center or a healthcare provider. Prenatal care is also a challenge as a lack of access to the hospital can result in premature or stillborn babies.
Since the 2007 Israeli blockade of Gaza, and when Hamas rose to power, Gaza has been left with limited specialized healthcare services and technology. This blockade has complicated the routes for imports of medical equipment, causing frequent shortages. The rise of the official war has made the situation worse. According to Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition (SHCC), during the first week of the Israel-Hamas war, “94 attacks were initiated on healthcare facilities in Israel and Gaza, killing 29 health care workers and injuring 24.” Because of these strikes on healthcare buildings, the safety of these facilities are questionable, and access to them is restricted. Many people, especially women, who are in need of healthcare products are not able to access them because of this constant threat. Although, there are a few hospitals running in Gaza to meet the extreme demands.
However, because of the increase in trauma and injuries due to the bombing and attacks, hospitals are swamped with the amount of cases. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that there are “50,000 pregnant women in Gaza struggling to receive basic health services” because of the overload of cases. The current access to healthcare products for women living in Gaza during the war is of short supply and the number of death rates will continue to grow if this problem remains unsolved.
The economic challenges coupled with recent violent incidents negatively impact women and may increase period poverty in the region. Women do not have sufficient access to proper menstrual resources and facilities. There should be more focus on increasing awareness and efforts to aid women in Israel with menstruation supplies.