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A Reflection on 6 months of War

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A Reflection on 6 months of War

My name is Marie Clarke and I'm the Chief Programme Officer at Women for Women International

I’ve just returned from two weeks in Palestine, where my colleague Amani Mustafa who is the Country Director of Women for Women International - Palestine and I met with many of our partners in the West Bank and Israel. As we approach the 6 month mark of this horrific war, we are supporting these partners across the region to help meet the urgent needs of women and their families.

The main thing that I'm taking away from these two weeks is that there is a common desire for the fighting to end. 

Everyone I spoke with is heartbroken by what they see playing out in Gaza. In fact, even when Palestinian people in the West Bank share about their own traumatic experiences – rising sexual violence, abuse at checkpoints, inability to work or obtain basic food items – they are constantly talking about how it compares to people in Gaza. 

When Palestinians from the West Bank call our hotlines for mental health support, they say that they don't want to take too many minutes of the time of the counsellor on the other end because they want to preserve minutes for the people in Gaza. 

This is commendable, but the truth is, people across the region are suffering. I heard consistently from people in the West Bank about the economic impact of this war on their lives and livelihoods. Women are experiencing much more significant threats at checkpoints. It is incredibly difficult for women to travel from place to place so that they can do their business. No one is being allowed outside of the West Bank and into Israel to work. And there is an uptick in physical and sexual violence. This is taking an economic and social toll on people who are trapped in place. 

Our partners run community kitchens in Gaza. Photo: Madlien
Our partners run community kitchens in Gaza. Photo: Madlien

But, wow, our partners are so resilient. Some of them are travelling (when they are granted the right to travel) to reach the most isolated women and provide them encouragement; to provide food vouchers or food itself so people survive this period of time, this period of escalation.

I also had the opportunity over these past two weeks to travel to Israel and meet some of our incredible partners there who are addressing violence against women in all its forms. These feminist organisations are finding ways to bring people together across divides – women who are engaging with other women in solidarity, whether they are Jewish Israelis, Palestinian Israelis, or different identity. They know that the only way that we will foster peace and build a future is if we stand together, woman to woman.

Our partners in Israel speak about how heartbreaking it is to see what's unfolding in Gaza. They share their own fears as well. What does the future hold for all of the people that live in this land? They talked to me about what happened to them on 7th October – it was a shock, and it has caused deep, enduring pain. They worry about the fate of the hostages and hope for their safe return. 

I am grateful to have had the chance to bear witness to women’s heartache and their bravery. While we desperately need the United Nations resolution of an immediate ceasefire to be implemented so that lifesaving aid can make it through and for all those held captive to be safely released, we also keep going.  

Our relentless focus is on providing emergency support in Gaza and with long-term rebuilding efforts in the region. We are committed to supporting as many women as possible with the skills and resources they need to rebuild their lives, families and communities. This is made possible thanks to the expertise of our local staff, partners, and the dedicated support of this global community.

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"The war, though, is bringing me a lot of pain and anxiety. The Madlien that existed before, with the beautiful smile that used to project hope among people, does not exist anymore. I wonder if she's ever going to be back to the past days. Could anything in the world make up for the loss that we are experiencing? Absolutely not. Even though the situation seems endless, I am hopeful that Palestinian women’s voices will be heard, and that one day there will be peace in the region."  

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Learn more about the conflict-affected countries where we work around the world. Since our origins in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we have expanded and adapted our programmes to support 579,287 women living in some of the world’s most challenging environments.



Mariam* has been working with us to document the deteriorating situation in Gaza. While living through the horrors of war herself, she dares to lift the stories of other Palestinian women.