In early February 2020 a small group of academics from public health, international relations, public policy, and development economics saw the need to better understand and address the gendered effects of COVID-19 and government responses to the outbreak, having previously examined the intersection between gender and health emergencies during Ebola, Zika, Cholera, and beyond.
They were funded by Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) to study the gendered effects of COVID-19 in Canada, the UK, China, and Hong Kong through a rapid multi-method gender analysis of pandemic preparedness and response mechanisms.
In March 2020, the team published a highly influential commentary on COVID-19: The Gendered Impacts of the Outbreak in the Lancet. This led to the creation of an international Gender and COVID-19 Working Group that has over 300 members across academia, civil society, government, and multi-lateral organizations. The Working Group communicates regularly via a google group and holds monthly virtual meetings.