Covid group issues call to action on gender equity after the pandemic

An international group of researchers, NGOs and healthworkers has issued a call to action to ensure women are not further marginalised by the pandemic.

Tired nurse wears face mask blue uniform gloves sits on hospital floor. Essential worker feels burnout stress of corona virus frontline


A group of health practitioners, policymakers, researchers and advocates from across the world have issued a Call to Action to address the impact of Covid-19 on women.

The Gender and Covid-19 Working Group, established in March 2020, brings together over 675 health practitioners, policymakers, researchers and advocates globally who share resources and expertise on topics related to gender equity, women’s empowerment, human rights and Covid-19.

In February it convened a conference to discuss what needs to be done in the wake of Covid to address gender inequality. The Call to Action, published yesterday, is based on those discussions which emphasised the importance of disaggregated data, investing in care infrastructure, support for policy and advocacy work led by women or marginalised groups and their organisations and gender transformative leadership.

The Group stresses that what they are outlined is now new. They say: “There are already structures in place that could realise them. Countless governmental and non-governmental organisations have issued gender-responsive Covid-19 blueprints, toolkits and recommendations. We do not need more plans, what we need is action.”

It covers the need for diverse and gender transformative leadership in the Covid-19 response and recovery, including engagement with diverse partnerships to better represent affected and marginalized populations in all aspects of pandemic response and recovery and the inclusion of healthcare providers, essential workers and caregivers in every stage of the response and recovery process—from planning and decision-making to implementation and evaluation.

It calls for governments, leaders and stakeholders to be held accountable for promised action items through due diligence practices and evaluation, for efforts to ensure that research includes women and girls and non-binary people, as well as men and boys to more accurately illustrate the lasting effects of Covid-19 on gender, the abolition of the idea of one-size-fits-all recovery plans and an increased focus on qualitative research storytelling and voices from the ground to better illustrate the lived experience of women and marginalised people as well as on best practice when it comes to crises responses.

It also calls for:

  • The gathering of scientific evidence of women’s paid and unpaid contributions to the workforce to inform policy and decision-makers about the need for protective and supportive policies that promote decent work
    opportunities and dignity for all women
  • Gender-responsive employment and socioeconomic policies in all international, national and sub-national recovery plans to ensure they address the unique impact of the pandemic on women and girls
  • Investment in infrastructure like childcare and eldercare in addition to efforts to disrupt the gendered, cultural norms that make women disproportionately responsible for care work.
  • New programmes to support entry and re-entry into the workforce for women, particularly women who lost or left paid work during the pandemic.
  • The implementation of sustainable, fair and flexible work arrangements, including continued access to remote work.
  • The creation of pipelines to quality, sustainable jobs
  • Universal paid sick leave and parental leave
  • The creation of supportive and inclusive policies to recognise the unpaid contributions women make in caregiving, either shifting the burden to public services and partners or developing pensions and other remunerative schemes that fairly compensate women and other carers for care work.

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