“The need for access to skilled birth attendants, protection from gender-based violence, contraception, and safe abortion often becomes more acute during outbreaks. COVID-19 is no different in the respect. Domestic violence reportedly rose in Wuhan, China, during the city’s two-month lockdown. And people still have sex, experience puberty, menstruate, become pregnant, and give birth during public-health emergencies, so meeting these needs must remain a high priority.

That requires promoting women to leadership roles. Women are skilled service providers, epidemiologists, caregivers, community leaders, and more. Above all, they are the best experts on their own lives and must be meaningfully engaged in all preparedness and response efforts. That means ensuring the participation of girls and women in all local, national, regional, and global task forces on COVID-19. Women must serve on local community councils and in legislative bodies where important decisions are made. At the international level, gender imbalances in global health leadership, where men hold 72% of the top positions, must urgently be addressed.”

More on “A Gender Lens for COVID-19” via Project Syndicate here.

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