Between 2001 and 2003, Women without Borders (WwB) cooperated with Birzeit Women’s Charitable Society as well as the Palestinian professor and recipient of the Bruno Kreisky Peace Prize Sumaya Farhat-Naser to build a delivery and emergency medical centre in the Palestinian city of Birzeit, and to provide related equipment like mobile birthing units for home deliveries in neighbouring villages.

Across Palestinian towns and cities, enduring conflict, the destruction and disintegration of infrastructure, and sweeping restrictions on movement have had a devastating impact on the population’s access to basic medical care and facilities. The demand for emergency and obstetric care has been particularly acute.

In 2001, Women without Borders (WwB) responded to the need for medical emergency support and natal care (at all stages) by supporting a substantial medical project in the Palestinian town of Birzeit. In collaboration with the peace activist Sumaya Farhat-Naser, the Vienna-based Bruno Kreisky Forum, and Birzeit Women’s Charitable Society, this undertaking gave rise to a birthing and emergency medical centre that was established to address and effectively deal with acute medical cases as well as the heightened vulnerability of pregnant women and new-born babies at the time.

The collective input and dedication of all partners to this project further made it possible to set up mobile birthing stations, and to provide additional medical equipment to those most affected by restrictions on movement and access-related issues more generally. Within two years, the project managed to provide some 35,000 people in Birzeit and its surrounding villages with appropriate medical care in their home or at the centre. ‘Emergency Medical Assistance for Women in Birzeit, Palestine’ not only positively impacted security dynamics and the wellbeing of citizens in the area; it also strengthened the status of women as a focal point of community resilience.

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