Gender & COVID-19

Real time gender analysis of the gendered dynamics of COVID-19 and gaps in preparedness and response

We need to understand and address the gendered effects of COVID-19 and government responses to the outbreak

LSE Investigators: Clare Wenham, Naila Kabeer
Region(s): Global
Keywords: COVID-19, gender, health policy, women, pandemic preparedness

The Gender and COVID-19 Research Project aims to conduct real time gender analysis to identify and document the gendered dynamics of the outbreak and gender gaps in preparedness and response measures, providing immediate guidance and recommendations to those crafting policies and delivering public health interventions.

Infectious disease outbreaks are considered by policymakers as global, collective problems, assuming a similar impact of pathogens on all people. Yet, the impact of disease on individuals and communities is not homogenous, with women disproportionately infected and affected. The sex and gendered dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak so far are anecdotal, but the consequences of sidelining these may limit effective responses in affected regions, as well as prevention and preparedness efforts locally and globally.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funding

In early February 2020 a small group of academics from public health, international relations, public policy, and development economics saw the need to better understand and address the gendered effects of COVID-19 and government responses to the outbreak, having previously examined the intersection between gender and health emergencies during Ebola, Zika, Cholera, and beyond. 

They were funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to study the gendered effects of COVID-19 in Canada, the UK, China, and Hong Kong through a rapid multi-method gender analysis of pandemic preparedness and response mechanisms.

Funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In March 2020, the team published a highly influential commentary on COVID-19: The Gendered Impacts of the Outbreak in the Lancet. This led to the creation of an international Gender and COVID-19 Working Group that has over 300 members across academia, civil society, government, and multi-lateral organizations. The Working Group communicates regularly via a google group and holds monthly virtual meetings.

In June 2020, through funding from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this work expanded to include five additional countries spanning the globe: Bangladesh, Nigeria, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Brazil. The international multi-disciplinary team has since begun to advance the most comprehensive, comparative gender-analysis of the outbreak to date with the aim of developing knowledge to mitigate against negative downstream effects of global public health policies created in response to the pandemic.

For more information, please contact Clare Wenham c.wenham@lse.ac.uk

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