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Where are the Women?

The Conspicuous Absence of Women in COVID-19 Response Teams and Plans, and Why We Need Them

The COVID-19 global crisis is disproportionately affecting women and girls. As the majority of frontline workers, women are highly exposed to the disease. Lockdowns implemented to curb the spread of the virus have also increased instances of gender-based violence (GBV) and seriously affected women’s livelihoods and economic opportunities. This makes it all the more important that women’s voices are equally included in the decision-making spaces and processes where responses are formed. Women’s participation is necessary at every level and in every arena, from national crisis committees to the local communities on the frontlines of humanitarian responses.

Without women’s equal leadership and participation, COVID-19 responses will be less effective at meeting the needs of women and girls, and this will have short- and long-term consequences for entire communities.

Through a survey of 30 countries and based on CARE’s experience and evidence base, this report provides an initial analysis of: The extent to which women and men have equal voice in national COVID-19 decision-making bodies; whether national-level responses are addressing the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and girls through funding or policy commitments for GBV, SRH services, or women specific economic assistance; whether countries with higher levels of women’s political leadership have been more likely to respond in ways that account for gender differences; and whether female frontline humanitarian responders, including women’s rights and women-led organizations, are being supported to lead the response in their communities.