Being a mother in Gaza is never an easy job. The region is torn apart by ongoing conflict, poverty, and an oppressive blockade. For mothers living in Gaza, these realities make parenting an immense struggle. Providing for day-to-day needs is difficult, and safety and basic human rights are uncertain. It is a matter of life and death.
In Gaza, mothers must battle a lack of food, medicine, and electricity. They must scramble to find the money to buy supplies and make sure their children have enough to eat. A blockade by Israel and Egypt has constrained the flow of goods into Gaza, making it difficult for parents to provide for their children.
Add to this a dire security situation. The United Nations Human Rights Council found that since the beginning of Israel’s assault in 2014, at least 342 Palestinian women have been killed in Israel and Palestine. During the 2020 Great March of Return protests, the Center for Human Rights at the Gaza-based Al-Mezan Institute reported that 21 of the 217 dead, as well as dozens of injured and disabled people, were women. In addition, Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rocket fire put mothers’ lives, and more importantly their children’s, at risk.
Amidst all of this hardship, Gaza’s mothers stand defiant. Facing the immense struggle of providing for their children, many mothers have taken on the roles of sole breadwinners, working hard to ensure their families’ survival. They also make time for teaching their children, striving to instill the strength of character that will carry them through the difficult times.
Though it is an uphill battle, Gaza’s mothers continue to do their utmost to give their children a better future, even as life and death hang in the balance. As one mother of four in Al-Shati refugee camp recently told a reporter, “I am doing whatever I can – even if it means sacrificing my time and sleep. This is my lifelong job and I take it seriously, despite all the suffering we face.”