Comedian Deirdre O’Kane today joined Trócaire’s Christmas appeal in support of the thousands of women and girls whose lives have been traumatised due to hostilities in war-torn Gaza.
The compounding effects of the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Covid-19 is having a dire impact on women who are facing domestic violence, poverty and mental health issues, the comedian said.
Speaking at the unveiling of a powerful mural in Essex Street, Dublin, depicting a mother and her daughter outside a bombed building in Gaza, Ms O’Kane said her memories of a visit with Trocaire to Gaza over two years ago are still fresh in her mind.
“When I visited Gaza, I met women and girls who have been traumatised by the conflict. More than a third of women living in Gaza suffer violence at the hands of their husbands. Women in Gaza have been disempowered, and they need our support to help get their lives back on track.”
She added: “I recall arriving in Gaza and feeling like entering a prison with high walls, barbed wire and cameras. Once I passed through border controls, Gaza was an assault on the senses. The heat, the smells, the overwhelming poverty and the obvious scars of war and oppression.”
Ms O’Kane, who visited one of the largest refugee camps in Gaza which accommodated more than 80,000 people, appealed to the people of Ireland to stand with the women of Gaza by donating to Trócaire’s Christmas appeal.
Trócaire CEO Coimhe de Barra said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has taken its toll on a traumatised population.
“Women and girls are at increased risk of gender-based violence as a result of the conflict and Covid-19 They have limited involvement and control in household decision-making, few social safety nets and limited access to information and services. Covid-19 has worsened the poor humanitarian situation for women as the health system is already overwhelmed by many years of blockade and is significantly overstretched.”
She added: “The population living in the Gaza strip have had a tough 2021 with an Israeli bombardment in May killing 253 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women, of whom four were pregnant. The offensive left more than 1,948 injured, including 610 children. Support for Trócaire’s Christmas Appeal will provide a lifeline to the women of Gaza this Christmas.”
- Covid-19 has led to an increase in caregiving and household responsibilities for women and girls due to the closure of schools and day-care centres.
- There is increased need for mental healthcare services for women locked into Gaza.
- There are currently around 87,000 pregnant women in Gaza and vulnerable areas of the West Bank. The majority lack access to quality healthcare services.
- Women are facing widespread discrimination, with limited employment opportunities and virtually no pathways to financial independence. Women’s participation in the Gaza labour force is among the lowest in the world at about 22%.
To donate to Trócaire’s Christmas Appeal, visit trocaire.org or call 1850 408 408 (RoI) or 0800 912 1200 (NI).