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A Gender Lens for COVID-19

Summary:
Gender is often an ignored factor during health emergencies, even though women comprise 70% of the global healthcare workforce. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the most effective policy responses will be those that account for how the crisis is experienced by women and girls. NEW YORK – When pandemics strike, world leaders and health responders must adapt quickly to the looming threat. Often the last factor they consider – if it makes their to-do lists at all – is gender. Insuring the Survival of Post-Pandemic Economies Getty Images This Time Truly Is Different Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty

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Gender is often an ignored factor during health emergencies, even though women comprise 70% of the global healthcare workforce. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the most effective policy responses will be those that account for how the crisis is experienced by women and girls.

NEW YORK – When pandemics strike, world leaders and health responders must adapt quickly to the looming threat. Often the last factor they consider – if it makes their to-do lists at all – is gender.

As advocates for the health and rights of girls and women, we’ve heard the excuses time and time again: “Gender isn’t a priority right now,” leaders say. “Maybe when things calm down,” they claim. “It’s not the right time,” they insist. If we are to pursue the most effective responses to COVID-19 – or any health emergency – this must change.

Girls and women experience outbreaks differently than boys and men. A gender lens highlights the specific risks and vulnerabilities girls and women face because of deep-rooted inequalities and traditional gender roles. And the facts such a perspective uncovers can save lives and ensure that nobody is left behind in our emergency responses.

To reframe our pandemic response with gender at the center, we need, first, to protect and support the global health workforce, 70% of whom are women. It is crucial that these health workers are trained,...

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