Pre-existing gender gaps risk intensifying the adverse effects of COVID-19. It is important to understand the different ways that the pandemic and accompanying economic crisis may affect gender equality outcomes.
Women make up 70% of the health care workforce globally. They represent an even higher proportion in the social care sector, are often the primary caregivers at home and are crucial mobilizing forces within their communities when it comes to access to health care. However, they hold just 25% of health leadership roles globally, and as few as 5% of senior positions in the Global South.
If we are to deliver health for all, it is crucial for us to apply a gender lens in our policies and interventions, both in our response to COVID-19 and in the many challenges that will emerge in its aftermath. First and foremost, this means that no decisions should be made about women without women and a recognition of the role women play in filling the health worker shortage worldwide.