Statements

A call for urgent action:
a renewed commitment to gender responsive research

for health equity and human rights in the context of COVID-19 pandemic

 

GENEVA, 17 APRIL 2020 – On the 11th March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic. Only four months into the unprecedented global health crisis, we have witnessed the spread of COVID-19 to nearly every corner of the world. The rapidly changing geography of the pandemic has uncovered many challenges that the global community is learning to address.
 
Our governments and communities have directed response efforts at saving lives and preventing further spread. The global research community has responded with an unprecedented speed in advancing knowledge about the virus and pressing to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. These efforts while critical and welcome must account for gender and its intersections with other social markers in order to understand the equity and human rights implications of COVID-19. In the urgency to generate evidence and discover preventive or therapeutic tools to curb the pandemics, we cannot compromise the standard of rigorous and robust research. The emerging body of literature on COVID-19 illustrates that sex and gender across life course are generally being disregarded, despite evidence showing they play a significant role in shaping risks of illness, death or other harms, restricting better understanding of the disease and its impact on lives and livelihoods.
 
Although attention to the gendered social, economic, and human rights repercussions as well as other health impacts, which deem to be harsh and long-lasting, is growing, evidence on these indicators has so far been scarcely available. This would be necessary to inform mitigation strategies and ensure that all people regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, migratory or any other status have equitable access to testing, quality respectful treatment, social and economic support measures to minimise the damaging consequences. 
 
We have a collective responsibility to shape the trajectory of our present and future efforts to fight global pandemics. With this in mind, GENDRO calls to promote generation of gender-sensitive evidence and forms of knowledge to create more equitable solutions to mitigate the multiple impacts of COVID-19 on women, men and gender diverse persons across all sectors and layers of society. GENDRO welcomes everyone interested in the subject to join our call for action and maintain the momentum to appeal all those involved directly and indirectly in COVID-19 response to act urgently and responsibly: 

 

1. Sex- and age-disaggregated data on COVID-19 must be systematically collected and reported and research must be designed and conducted in a way to allow meaningful gender analysis of safety, efficacy and effectiveness of diagnosis tools, drug or vaccine candidates.

 

Evidence to date points to gender and age differences in terms of susceptibility and vulnerability to infection, disease progression and outcome. Yet, reported data on incidence, prevalence, symptoms, testing, hospitalisation, ICU care, discharge, recovery or mortality are not systematically provided, nor broken down by sex and age, thus hamper a better understanding of disease and effective policy and programmatic efforts. Our knowledge about the gender and age breakdown of the growing number of infected health workers remains also limited. Furthermore, any ongoing health research, including but not limited to preclinical studies and clinical trials, must be designed to adequately capture sex and gender differences in different age groups and examine the gender implications. Recruitment strategies for trials will need to ensure gender balance of participants to make such analysis feasible.
 

2. Data analysis and research on social, economic and human rights impact of COVID-19 must systematically consider gender and other dimensions of inequality.

Data collected on access to quality, affordable and equitable healthcare, or on the impact of the quarantine measures on employment rates, gender-based violence, mental health, access to other essential services e.g., sexual and reproductive health services, financial support measures, social protection measures, human rights, or any other indicators must be gender sensitive and be disaggregated by sex and age, as a minimum, to allow for identification of gender and other disparities and devise more equitable mitigation strategies. Ideally, data should also be stratified by other dimensions of inequality, such as ethnicity, refugee status, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability to identify and address other inequities. Research on social, economic and human rights implications of COVID-19 must equally apply an intersectional gender lens to account for the differential impact of the epidemic of all genders across different layers of the society. Dedicated research must also be carried out to understand the implications on underserved and populations that are underrepresented in research.
 

3. Peer-reviewed publications of COVID-19 related research must present all data disaggregated by sex and age and articulate other gender considerations.

Editors of scientific journals must require authors submitting research and analysis related to COVID-19 to provide all data (for example, data on recruitment, enrolment, dropouts, retention, completion, adverse effects and all outcomes in clinical trials) disaggregated by sex and age, as a minimum, as suggested by the Sex and Gender Equity in Research (SAGER) guidelines. The fully disaggregated data could be published as part of the article or as supplementary material easily accessible online. Policy research and other research in social, political, economic, and data sciences must report how gender and its intersection with other social markers have been accounted for. All authors should be encouraged to analyse and report any gender implications and justify lack of any such analysis.
 

4. Research funding agencies and ethics committees must be diligent in ensuring a gender sensitive approach to research.

As key gatekeepers in the research ecosystem, research funding agencies and research ethics committees play an instrumental role in ensuring rigorous and ethical research that benefits all. Hence, they need to continuously emphasise the importance of integration of gender and age dimensions in any research related to COVID-19 and encourage consideration of other important dimensions in research proposals and protocols.
 
GENDRO continues to observe and monitor publications that address the gendered implications of COVID-19 and we share these on our social media and our website. GENDRO encourages information exchange among and beyond GENDRO’s Gender, Evidence and Health Network. We must be cautious of premature and misleading information and gender-blind interpretations. We must be vigilant that research and analysis are transparent, complete and accessible in a timely fashion to allow for critical examination and scrutiny of information. Now as never before we need robust research and data to address the pressing global health challenges.

 

Endorse our call for action for a stronger commitment to

gender-sensitive and responsive research in the

context of novel coronavirus pandemic.

Thank you for endorsing GENDRO's statement on Gender and COVID-19

Endorsements to date...

 
Submitted
First Name
Last Name
Affiliation
13/03/2021
Abha
Saxena
Independent Bioethics Advisor
15/01/2021
Renée
Hunter
Value for Women
12/01/2021
Katharina
O'Cathaoir
Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen
11/01/2021
Hilary
Homans
Prof. Dr.
26/12/2020
Pavel
Ovseiko
University of Oxford
04/12/2020
Chantal
BINWA
AFPDE DR CONGO
25/11/2020
Maria Helen
Dayo
University of the Philippines Los Baños
09/10/2020
Hulya
Simga
Maltepe University (Turkey), Center for Women and Family Studies
10/09/2020
Bijoya
Roy
Centre for Women's Development Studies
02/09/2020
Mary
Showstark
International Federation of Physician Assistant/Physician Associate and Clinical Officer/Clinical Associate/Comparable Students’ Association (IFPACS)
01/09/2020
Ravi
Ram
PHM
01/09/2020
Anny
Torres
Ufop
01/09/2020
Lidia
Arroyo
UOC
31/07/2020
Nancy
Clark
University of Victoria
30/07/2020
Yana
Daneva
GENDRO
29/07/2020
Fiona
Samuels
ODI
18/06/2020
Sarah
Simpson
EquiACT, independent consultancy
04/06/2020
Maria D
Rodriguez Frias
UAH, Madrid
04/06/2020
Beata
Bielska
Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun
03/06/2020
Thomas
Berghöfer
DESY Hamburg
02/06/2020
Kamal
Shah
KPMG - International Development Advisory Services (IDAS)
29/05/2020
Andrea
Tricco
Unity health toronto
19/05/2020
Flynn
Lebus
FSG
17/05/2020
Kelly
Thompson
The George Institute for Global Health
15/05/2020
Akarsh
Venkatasubramanian
Global Health Centre, IHEID
11/05/2020
Pallavi
Mathur
Bhartiya Skill Development University
09/05/2020
Michael
Ewers
Ludwig Maximilian University
08/05/2020
Lidia
Arroyo
Open University of Catalonia
29/04/2020
Paola
De Castro
Istituto Superiore di Sanità
29/04/2020
Shirin
Heidari
GENDRO
29/04/2020
Maria
Halkias
GENDRO
27/04/2020
Mona
Loutfy
University of Toronto
27/04/2020
David
Haerry
Positive Council Switzerland
23/04/2020
Leila
Garcia
Institute of Applied Economic Research, Brazil
23/04/2020
Juan
Alguacil
Full Professor of Public Health
22/04/2020
Meg
Davis
Graduate Institute
22/04/2020
Misghina
Weldegiorgis
Imperial College London
22/04/2020
Claudia
Ahumada
21/04/2020
Kristine
Hejgaard
Trusted advisor
21/04/2020
Frederik
Schaltz-Buchholzer
University of Southern Denmark
21/04/2020
Petra
Verdonk
Amsterdam UMC-VUmc
21/04/2020
Roojin
Habibi
Global Strategy Lab
21/04/2020
Jagnoor
Jagnoor
20/04/2020
AVAC
AVAC
AVAC
20/04/2020
Surekha
Garimella
The George Institute for Global Health, India
20/04/2020
Manju
Chatani
20/04/2020
Robyn
Norton
The George Institute for Global Health
20/04/2020
Christine
Benn
University of Southern Denmark
20/04/2020
Joanna
Pradela
IWDA IDM
20/04/2020
Dominic
Kemps
Sommartel Ltd.
20/04/2020
Alexandra
Calmy
Geneva University
20/04/2020
Dominic
Eggel
IHEID
20/04/2020
Martin
Tod
Men's Health Forum (GB)
20/04/2020
Jenna
Haverfield
CIHR Institute of Gender and Health
19/04/2020
Catherine
Hankins
Professor of Public and Population Health, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal
19/04/2020
Dina
Balabanova
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
18/04/2020
Ghazal
Zaboli
Science Teacher
18/04/2020
Jill
Gay
Chief Technical Officer What Works Association USA
18/04/2020
Mark
Woodward
The George Institute for Global Health, University of Oxford
18/04/2020
Sofia
Ahmed
University of Calgary
18/04/2020
Erik
VÅGBERG
Non-profit
18/04/2020
Rasa
Valantinaite
18/04/2020
Lydia
Mungherera
Gender Consult
17/04/2020
Tyler
Crone
ATHENA Network
17/04/2020
Victoria
Prieto-Echagüe
Institut Pasteur de Montevideo
17/04/2020
Stephen
Burrell
Durham University
17/04/2020
Sabine
Oertelt-Prigione
Radboud University, Nijmegen, NL
17/04/2020
Rosemary
Morgan
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
17/04/2020
Geordan
Shannon
UCL
17/04/2020
Petra
Verdonk
Amsterdam UMC dept Medical Humanities
17/04/2020
MILKA
DINEV
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH SUPPLIES COALITION
17/04/2020
cem
uzun
Prof. Dr.
17/04/2020
Marta
Rondon
INSTITUTO NACIONAL MATERNO PERINATAL AND UNIVERSIDAD PERUANA CAYETANO HEREDIA, LIMA PERU
17/04/2020
Teresa
Ruiz-Cantero
Professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Alicante, Spain
17/04/2020
carol
Tyroler
Gender Expert
17/04/2020
Megan
Holloway
17/04/2020
Vivienne C.
Bachelet
Medwave; Universidad de Santiago de Chile (USACH)
17/04/2020
Niyati
Shah
17/04/2020
Joël
Graf
Euresearch
17/04/2020
Peter
Baker
Director, Global Action on Men's Health
17/04/2020
Ineke
Klinge
17/04/2020
Cara
Tannenbaum
Scientific Director, Institute of Gender and Health, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
17/04/2020
Ioannis
Rouvelas
Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
17/04/2020
Alice
Welbourn
Salamander Trust