As the Palestinian Ministry of Women’s Affairs spoke out against the harsh violence against women in Gaza on Tuesday, almost 80 Australian women leaders and peace activists from across civil society, politics, media, academia, unions and aid agencies have signed onto an Open Statement calling on the Australian Government to step up its efforts to promote an immediate ceasefire, protect civilians and de-escalate the conflict in Gaza.
The statement, which coincides with the 23rd anniversary of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, raises the alarm on the growing impacts of the conflict on women and children, and the urgent need to support the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls. The statement urges Australia to do more to ensure women are brought into peace negotiations as part of its commitments to the WPS agenda.
Professor of International Relations at Monash University, Jacqui True: “The reality of the situation in Israel and Palestine is confronting: Women attacked, tortured and paraded in public. More children killed than in all the world’s conflict since 2019. Infants as hostages. Caesarean sections carried out without anaesthetics. Babies delivered from their dead mothers. 75% of the injured and killed in this conflict so far are women and children. By sheer numbers Gaza’s women face the harshest impacts of this war,” said Jacqui True, Professor of International Relations at Monash University.
Former Labor Senators, Claire Moore (2001-2019) and Margaret Reynolds (1983 to 1999) have both joined the statement with Moore expressing her concern over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza: “We celebrated the UN Declaration 1325 when it was introduced after so many years of work to acknowledge the impact of war on women and children. Now we need to see our nation and our world respond to the current humanitarian crisis as well as commit to real action to build peace.”
High profile Australian journalist Virginia Haussegger AM: “At the very time we mark the 23rd anniversary of the UN Security Resolution 1325 which committed all member states to a Women, Peace and Security agenda, the fully male led killing machines on both sides of this horrific war make a mockery of our collective WPS commitments. Until the world stands up and says, ‘Enough is Enough’, women and children will continue to be ‘collateral damage’ and death fodder of inflamed male egos that are incapable of any solution beyond violent annihilation. I desperately hope that we, as a global community, are better than that.”
The Open Statement has been developed by the Australian Civil Society Coalition on Women, Peace and Security which is concerned by the lack of action by governments to uphold global commitments on Women, Peace and Security.
Michelle Higelin, Executive Director of ActionAid Australia and Co-Chair of the Australian Civil Society Coalition on Women, Peace and Security: “Globally we are seeing a backsliding on commitments governments have made to address the disproportionate impact of conflict on women and girls. The unfolding humanitarian catastrophe is Gaza, where women and children make up 75% of those who have been killed, is an example of the international community’s failure to protect civilians and to promote peaceful resolution of conflict.”
Ludmilla Kwitko from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and Co-Chair of the Coalition: “We echo the words of the UN Secretary General that we need to close the gap between rhetoric and reality around the WPS agenda. Military spending continues to soar and far too many peace processes exclude women. Women’s participation is vital to bring an end to the conflict between Israel and Hamas and is proven to be effective in lasting peace agreements. It must be a priority to bring women to the negotiation table.”
The statement demands that Australia does not contribute troops, arms or military assistance to the current conflict, highlighting concern over Australia’s longstanding defence relationship with Israel.
Full version of the statement and list of signatories can be accessed here.
For more information and interviews with spokespeople, please contact: Tim Brunero, 0405 285 547 / [email protected]
About the Australian Civil Society Coalition on Women, Peace, and Security
The Australian Civil Society Coalition on Women, Peace and Security (‘the Coalition’) is a non-partisan and independent coalition of civil society organisations, networks and individuals working to advance the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Australia, Asia and the Pacific region and globally. The Coalition brings together. activists, feminists, practitioners, humanitarian actors and those with first-hand experience working on gender, peace and security. Coalition members have wide-ranging expertise in gender and peace.