Global Fund for Women Board Statement: Crisis in Gaza

January 13, 2009
The Board of Directors of the Global Fund for Women, a diverse group of leaders from many nations, including Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Sweden, and the United States, is deeply concerned about the current Israeli military offensive in Gaza. The Global Fund for Women stands in solidarity with other human rights, feminist, and progressive organizations as we call for an end to the violence and immediate action by the international community.

As a women’s rights organization, we believe it is time to dismantle militarism as the dominant ideology in world politics.  It is time for women to do all we can to further this shared goal. There must be solidarity among women, not only in our calls for an immediate cease-fire, but also in our joint actions. We are determined to use our political, social and economic influence and expertise to bring a lasting peace to this and other regions where conflict rages.

We call on the Israeli government, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and their respective allies to stop: stop the rockets, missiles, and the carnage - now.  We call upon the United Nations and political leaders in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East, to demand an immediate end to hostilities, no pre-conditions. Precious lives - not Israeli or Palestinian - simply human lives - are at stake and they matter.  They always have.

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict does not lend itself to easy solutions or simple analysis.  The international community, including the United States, is deeply implicated in the failure to find timely and objective mechanisms to address a conflict whose history goes back over sixty years. This latest chapter builds on an increasingly asymmetrical and unequal conflict between the government of Israel and the elected government of Gaza. Today, the people of Gaza are trapped inside a no-man's land that has neither the status of an independent state, nor the recognition of the world community.

The Israeli military attacks on Gaza have exacerbated what the United Nations already had termed a “humanitarian crisis of significant proportions”. The violence of the past few days has been inflicted on people who were already weakened by months of inadequate access to food, medical care, nutrition, fuel and electricity as a result of the Israeli government blockade.  Since the attacks were launched by Israel on Dec 27, 2008, this conflict has cost over 800 lives and injured and maimed more than 2000, most of whom are civilian residents of Gaza, including women and children.

Remarkable women, like our advisor, Majeda Al Saqqa, and many others like her are somehow keeping their families and their communities together. Women bear primary responsibility for feeding and caring for the family, tending to the sick and providing some semblance of a stable environment.  Over the past twelve days, under conditions of war, their lives have been as dangerous as those of soldiers on the front lines.

And yet, in the words of one Gaza grantee, “our people are steadfast despite the miserable conditions without food, medicine, or shelter, with homes falling on our heads, with the stinging cold, with no electricity or water, our homes, our hospitals and our mosques are being destroyed.  Despite this we share our bread with each other and we support each other. We had to use some of the funds you sent us to help those whose homes were destroyed and are without a shelter.”   Their ongoing struggle is supported by many others, including women’s groups inside Israel, like the Coalition of Women for Peace. Read The Full Statement.

They are brave and determined, but they need the immediate and full support of the world community.  As leaders of an international women’s fund that supports women and children in over 160 countries, we make the following demands:

1.    An immediate end to hostilities now – called for and enforced by the United Nations – with unanimous support from all members of the UN Security Council, including the United States
2.    The United Nations to show leadership in resolving this crisis by requiring both the state of Israel and the elected representatives of the Palestinian people immediately take steps to comply with the current UN resolutions on the Middle East.
3.    United States President-elect, Barack Obama to demonstrate more enlightened leadership on this issue than has been evident from the United States to-date.  We hope he can show both courage and the political will to put people and peace first.
4.    An immediate end to the practice of collective punishment of civilians that disproportionately affects women and childern.
5.    A call for the United Nations to hold fast to its commitments to expand all peacekeeping forces and negotiating teams, including those focused on the Middle East crisis, to include more women, thus ensuring that women can take the lead in building a lasting peace both in this region and around the world. 
6.    A call for all parties to abide fully by international humanitarian and human rights law and to allow UN monitors access to monitor violations.
7.    Stop the destruction of vital civilian infrastructure like schools.
8.    The protection of civilian lives must be made paramount in negotiating a long-term truce with cessation of hostilities from both sides and an unconditional lifting of the embargo.

Global Fund for Women Board of Directors

Amina Mama, Chair Nigeria/United Kingdom
Stans Kleijnen, Treasurer The Netherlands/United States
Dina Dublon, Secretary United States
Julie Benello United States
Charlotte Bunch United States
Myrna Cunningham Nicaragua
Abigail Disney United States
Lydia Alpízar Durán Costa Rica/Mexico
Linda Gruber United States
Leila Hessini Morocco
Boriana Jonsson Bulgaria/Sweden
Laurene Powell-Jobs United States
Gay McDougall United States
Kavita N. Ramdas India/United States
Mu Sochua Cambodia
Zenebeworke Tadesse Ethiopia
Sakena Yacoobi Afghanistan


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