The current COVID-19 pandemic shines a harsh light on inequality and shows that ours is an interconnected global society. Viruses don’t respect national borders, and the rapid spread of this disease is due in large part to the ways power and privilege play out in the provision of healthcare worldwide.
Our five asks will help us confront this power and privilege, which undermine global health by preventing women from contributing equally to the fight against challenges like COVID-19.
WGH’s Five Asks for Gender-Responsive Global Health Security:
Include women in global health security decision making structures and public discourse
Women are 70% of the global health workforce but underrepresented in COVID-19 decision-making leadership & media commentaries.
Provide health workers, most of whom are women, with safe and decent working conditions
Women are clustered into lower status & lower paid jobs in the global health workforce. They are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection, compounded by exhaustion and mental stress.
Recognize the value of women’s unpaid care work by including it in the formal labor market
and redistributing unpaid family care equally
Female health workers contribute an estimated $3 trillion to our Gross World Product, of which almost half is unrecognized and unpaid. Women, more than men, are recruited for unpaid roles in health and expected to provide care and domestic work for their families.
Adopt a gender-sensitive approach to health security data collection/analysis and response management
Ignoring the gender aspects of outbreaks hinders prevention and response management by obscuring critical risk factors and trends.
Fund women’s movements to unleash capacity to address critical gender issues
Women’s organizations – especially those based in low- and middle-income countries that are most at risk – are underfunded. Only 1% of gender-focused donor aid to civil society went directly to women’s NGOs in low-income countries from 2017 to 2018.