Without women, we wont end the Pandemic. Women in Global Health at the Global COVID-19 Summit

Published By

Women in Global Health

Published Date

September 21, 2021

Colleagues,

With around 225 million infections and almost 5 million deaths globally, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating impact upon lives, health and livelihoods - from the immediate health impact to a broader 'shadow pandemic' of lost jobs, increased unpaid work, stress and violence for women, global leaders must come together with the highest level of political commitment to end this pandemic.

The U.S. government has called for a Global COVID-19 Summit: Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better (#COVIDSummit) to take place at the UNGA on September 22nd. This is an important moment in advocacy, which could shape global pandemic preparedness and response efforts for the years/decades ahead and they've reached out to ask WGH for our support of their work.

The COVID-19 pandemic struck a deeply unequal world and will deepen inequalities within and between countries unless we resolve to make this pandemic a radical break with the past. One of the deepest inequalities - gender inequality - if left unaddressed, will continue to undermine efforts to vaccinate the world, end the pandemic, strengthen health systems, as well as progress made to date to address gaps in global health security. The COVID-19 pandemic is proof of concept for a gender-responsive approach, and lessons learned from the ongoing COVID-19 response are an opportunity to address gender inequality in global health security, as well as global health more broadly. Taking a gender responsive approach to health security remains critical to pandemic response and preparedness for future pandemics.

We hope that the summit will not only set ambitious action to achieve vaccination (70% of the world's population) and funding ($10 Billion for Pandemic Preparedness and Response), but it will be gender responsive in its approach. As it currently stands, the #COVIDSummit is gender blind and has minimal acknowledgement of the role of the health and care workforce. You can find the COVID-19 SUMMIT TARGETS attached.

As the U.S. Government mobilizes to address the COVID-19 pandemic, we call on you to not sideline issues of gender equity and the role of women in the health and care workforce, but to hardwire them into every aspect of the pandemic response and preparedness.

To Vaccinate the World, Save Lives Now, and Build Back Better:
Women will vaccinate the world and women will save lives; without them we will not be able to vaccinate the world and our health systems will collapse. Women are responsible for the 5 billion Covd-19 vaccinations to date. Women comprise 70% of health workers and have made an extraordinary contribution on the frontlines of this pandemic. Women are the experts in the health systems, yet they are clustered into lower paid and unpaid, lower status jobs, frequently in unsafe working conditions and subject to violence and sexual harassment and left out of decision-making roles. All over the world health workers are planning to leave the profession, particularly women who have shouldered the burden of the pandemic at work and unpaid care work at home.

We are calling on the U.S. Government and global leaders to:
1. Provide health workers, most of whom are women, with safe and decent working conditions, including equitable access to vaccines, testing, appropriate PPE designed for female bodies and mental psychosocial support.
2. Recognize the value of women's underpaid and unpaid work in health by including it in the formal labor market and by providing fair pay and living wages for their work.
3. Women will Build Back Better. Include women in global health security decision making structures at all levels and public discourse.
4. Adopt a gender-sensitive approach to health security data collection/analysis and response management to for accurate data and accountability,
5. Fund women's movements to unleash capacity to address critical gender issues.
(Source COVID 50/50: A Gender Responsive Approach to Health Security)

Actions:
● Ask for high level attendance and commitment (high-level attendance by focusing on
Heads of State, Ministers of Foreign Affairs/Finance/Health or Ambassadors/High
Commissioners) at the summit from your government and other global leaders
● Ask governments and other global leaders to invest in the health and care workforce,
especially women in health, who will vaccinate the world and save lives! Without the
health and care workforce, our health systems will collapse
● Ask for values of transparency, gender and broader equity, rights based and whole of
government approach, accountability to end COVID-19 and future pandemic
preparedness
● Use our #COVID5050 Social Media to Amplify Messaging to Global Actors #COVIDSummit tag key global leaders and organizations (@womeningh)

We at Women in Global Health are advocating for a new, gender equal social contract for Women in the health and care sector. Women want the means - decent work, safety, dignity, fair pay and equal leadership - to do their jobs better and deliver stronger health outcomes for everyone. That new social contract will form the solid foundation for vaccinating the world, saving lives now and building back better and achieving global health security.

Sincerely,

Roopa Dhatt
Executive Director & Co-Founder, Women in Global Health