Championing Gender Equality in the Shadow of Conflict

Written By Danielle Ofek, Posted on March 7, 2024

As we commemorate International Women’s Day, it’s imperative to shine a spotlight on the plight of women in the Middle East conflict, especially those scarred by the harrowing events of October 7. The #MeToo_Unless_Ur_A_Jew campaign brings these women’s struggles into focus, urging the acknowledgment of their pain amid distorted narratives. The ARCCI’s thorough documentation of the sexual violence committed by Hamas on this day lays bare a calculated campaign of terror and humiliation, amounting to acts of genocide. This chilling reality calls for a global awakening to the atrocities committed, underscoring the critical need for universal action and recognition. Our commitment to women’s rights rings hollow unless it includes all victims, refusing to erase any group to fit a convenient narrative.

We are tasked with holding dual truths: Israel’s existential threat and the tragic exploitation of Palestinians in Gaza by Hamas for its survival. The blame rests squarely with Hamas.

The global response, notably from the United Nations, has been marred by controversy and bias accusations, especially against Israel, revealing the difficulty of acknowledging the suffering of certain groups without disturbing established political narratives.

UN Women, established to champion gender equality and the empowerment of women, has faced scrutiny for not adequately addressing the severity of crimes committed by groups such as Hamas, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by numerous countries. This silence, safe for a brief mention,  on critical issues has raised concerns about whether the entity has lived up to its promise of promoting the rights and safety of all women, particularly those impacted by terrorism. The lack of vocal condemnation of the egregious acts committed by Hamas against women highlights a gap in UN Women’s commitment to combating gender-based violence across all spectrums.

Amidst this backdrop, the #MeToo_Unless_Ur_A_Jew campaign reached out to the Forum for Foreign Relations, a think tank headed by Catherine Perez-Shakdam and Dr. Stepan Stepanenko so that policy recommendations could be crafted and the work of our campaign elevated. 

We have taken a proactive stance by advocating for necessary reforms within UN Women to ensure it can effectively champion the rights of women affected by violence from non-state actors like Hamas. Recognizing the urgent need for an unbiased, comprehensive approach to gender-based violence, the campaign has meticulously developed policy recommendations aimed at enhancing UN Women’s response mechanisms, accountability, and inclusivity. These recommendations, crafted to bridge the existing gaps and reinforce UN Women’s mandate, are poised for presentation before the House of Lords in the UK. This strategic collaboration signifies a pivotal step towards ensuring that the organization upholds its fundamental mission of gender equality and women’s empowerment, irrespective of the challenging and politically sensitive contexts it operates within.

Our campaign emphasizes the need for a nuanced understanding of conflict and human rights abuses, challenging the oversimplification and politicization that obscure the real experiences of women. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we pledge to alter this narrative, advocating for a world where empathy and justice override political divides, ensuring every woman’s story is acknowledged, and her rights are staunchly protected.

The #MeToo_Unless_Ur_A_Jew campaign stands as a beacon of inspiration and mobilization, urging us to stand in solidarity with women whose stories challenge and transcend our existing beliefs and political affiliations. It embodies the conviction that the journey towards gender equality encompasses everyone, advocating for the rights and recognition of every woman across the globe. To join our campaign is a testament of one’s commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion, an affirmation that no matter who, where, and when, victims of crimes will be given a voice and a platform upon which to speak and call for justice. We will continue to fight until UN Women recognizes its fault and ensures, through reforms, that never again will it allow minorities to go unspoken.

Within the vibrant tapestry of our shared humanity, every courageous act, every connection of unity, and every resilience moment strengthens our collective spirit. Let’s embrace our role as creators of positive change, envisioning a future where each action is a beacon of hope, every color celebrates our diversity, and every pattern reflects our shared commitment to a world brimming with justice, peace, and equality.

Danielle Ofek

Danielle Ofek is an Israeli activist and a pioneering figure in tech and social entrepreneurship, known for her dynamic approach to gender parity and women's rights. Recognizing a significant gap in the international community’s response to the sexual violence perpetrated against Israeli women and girls on October 7th, Danielle founded Angle, an initiative aimed at addressing this critical issue.

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