The Underbelly of the Virus: how COVID-19 revealed our unequal world

Hosted by the International Inequalities Institute

Online public event


Tracy Jooste

Tracy Jooste

Senior Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity

Pablo Andres Rivero Morales

Pablo Andres Rivero Morales


Julie Seghers

Julie Seghers

Oxfam International

Mwanahamisi Singano

Mwanahamisi Singano

African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET)


Dr Armine Ishkanian

Dr Armine Ishkanian

Director of Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity

In the twelve months since the first lockdowns in the Global North, there has been a measurable rise in inequality in almost every country in the world, with preliminary studies indicating that unless urgent action is taken, the crisis will lead to a lasting, and even greater, economic divide. In 2020, the virus may have pushed an additional 200 to 500 million people below the $5.50 a day poverty line, while it took just nine months for the fortunes of the 1,000 richest people on Earth to return to their pre-pandemic highs.

Hosted by the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme at the International Inequalities Institute, this discussion will bring together an international panel of practitioners, scholars and policy-makers to discuss a new Oxfam briefing paper, The Inequality Virus: Bringing together a world torn apart by coronavirus through a fair, just and sustainable economy. The report draws on a survey of 295 economists from 79 countries, and supports the troubling view that the global spread of coronavirus has exposed, fed off and increased inequalities of wealth and income, gender and race.

In a world in which the super-rich take private jets to Dubai to jump the vaccination queue as health workers die waiting to get an injection, and asset managers continue to earn 1,400 times more than nurses, what hope is there to “build back better”? Our panellists will consider the intersecting inequalities that have led some of us to be much worse affected by the pandemic than others, and examine systemic problems and potential solutions.


Tracy Jooste is a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity. She has actively worked towards addressing social and economic inequalities in South Africa for over 15 years, and has served in various capacities in government, civil society, the private sector and academia. Most recently she has supported grassroots organisations in informal settlements across South African cities to advocate for improved water and sanitation access during the coronavirus pandemic. Her work also promotes transparent and accountable government budget processes. Tracy holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Cape Town. 

Pablo Andres Rivero Morales (@payorivero) is Policy and Narratives Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) regional lead, Oxfam, and co-author of The Inequality Virus. He is a lecturer in digital communication at San Pablo Catholic University in La Paz, Bolivia. As a campaigning and political communication specialist, his focus is on narratives, digital influencing and audiences, and how transdisciplinary research and collaboration can contribute to social and political changes. He has designed and supported campaigns and influencing processes led by Oxfam offices, social movements and political parties across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Julie Seghers (@JulieSeghers) is Senior Advocacy Advisor at Oxfam, a role she has held for five years. She is responsible for Oxfam’s advocacy work with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with a focus on aid and development finance. She was previously an analyst working on issues of aid effectiveness at the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate. Prior to that, she worked at AFD (Agence Française de Développement), initially as a project officer in the Local Authorities and Urban Development Division, then as project manager for social sectors at the Antananarivo agency. She was Oxfam’s commissioning manager for The Inequality Virus.

Mwanahamisi (Mishy) Singano (@msalimu) is an African feminist and Head of Programmes at African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET). She has  extensive experience in socio-economic programming, policy advocacy and development campaigns. For over ten years she led and engaged in promoting, advancing and protecting the rights of women in their diversities. In that quest, she has worked on combatting climate change, violence against women, inequality, and promoting financial inclusion, women’s empowerment, land rights, farmers’, and food rights in Africa and beyond. She is also a writer and passionate advocate for justice.


Armine Ishkanian (@Armish15) is Associate Professor of Social Policy and the Executive Director of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme at LSE. Her research focuses on the relationship between civil society, policy processes, and social transformation. She is co-convenor of the Politics of Inequality research theme based in the International Inequalities Institute.

This event is part of the LSE Festival: Shaping the Post-COVID World, running from Monday 1 to Saturday 6 March 2021, with a series of events exploring the direction the world could and should be taking after the crisis and how social science research can shape it.

The Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme is a Global South-focused, funded fellowship for mid-career activists, policy-makers, researchers and movement-builders from around the world. Based at the International Inequalities Institute, it is a 20-year programme that commenced in 2017 and was funded with a £64m gift from Atlantic Philanthropies, LSE’s largest ever philanthropic donation.
The International Inequalities Institute (@LSEInequalities) at LSE brings together experts from many LSE departments and centres to lead cutting-edge research focused on understanding why inequalities are escalating in numerous arenas across the world, and to develop critical tools to address these challenges.

This event had live captioning and BSL interpreters.

Twitter hashtag for this event: #LSEFestival #LSECOVID19

Podcast & Video

A podcast of this event is available to download from The Underbelly of the Virus: how COVID-19 revealed our unequal world.

A video of this event is available to watch at The Underbelly of the Virus: how COVID-19 revealed our unequal world.

Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.

From time to time there are changes to event details so we strongly recommend checking back on this listing on the day of the event if you plan to attend. Whilst we are hosting this listing, LSE Events does not take responsibility for the running and administration of this event. While we take responsible measures to ensure accurate information is given here this event is ultimately the responsibility of the organisation presenting the event.


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