Skip to content

The Gender Analysis and COVID-19 Matrix: Utility and usability

In this blog Alice Murage explores the Gender Analysis and COVID-19 Matrix. She explains how to use the Matrix to rapidly collect and analyse data and how this data can be used in decision-making and in designing larger studies.

The Gender Analysis and COVID-19 Matrix is an important analytical tool developed by the Gender and COVID-19 Project to rapidly capture and share a snapshot of gendered impacts of the pandemic across countries and case studies. Although past pandemics have taught us that the impacts of pandemic and consequent policies are highly gendered in emergencies in-depth research on gender does not always inform evidence-based policies. The Matrix is an exciting new tool whose utility holds a promise of informing gender responsive interventions in real-time.

The Matrix organizes large amounts of qualitative data using horizontal and vertical categories identifying interactions of individual experiences with gender analysis domains. The domains were carefully selected by the Project to allow an examination of gendered power dynamics. How gender interacts with access to resources, roles in society, societal norms and beliefs, distribution of decision-making power, and institutional provisions. The Matrix does not examine gender in isolation but rather recognizes that an individual’s social location is also informed by other factors such race, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, age, income level, and source of income, among others. Adopting an intersectional lens in this analysis, not only offers a more accurate picture of diverse experiences and outcomes but also acknowledges contexts that structure social inequalities.

Using the Matrix

You can use the Gender Analysis and COVID-19 Matrix to do your own analysis. By collecting data from news articles and plotting them against the Matrix and its domains of analysis, you can rapidly start mapping the gendered impacts of the pandemic and response policies. This guide offers broad gender analysis questions to consider for each domain.

In using the Matrix to conduct an analysis of the gendered impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya, I systematically retrieved and analysed news reports available online using predetermined search terms like COVID-19, coronavirus, gender, women, and health workers. Sometimes, news reports referred to research and NGO reports which I also looked at in case they contained other related data. The idea is to rapidly and effectively identify gendered and intersectional social locations and policies that contribute to risks of infection, experiences with COVID-19 illness and treatment, access to other health services and systems, and the social, economic, and security impacts of the pandemic. I then situated the different experiences and outcomes within the pre-determined gender analysis domains.

It is important to understand what each domain represents as it can be a bit confusing to determine which domain to use for particular experiences. Slum residents in Kenya, for instance, experience unique risks to COVID-19 exposure due to overcrowded living arrangements, limited resources including limited access to water, and occupation as daily wage-earners with low income. After an examination of the domains, I determined that access to resources and decision-making power were most relevant. While the former was most obvious, the decision-making power was more implicit because by living in overcrowded housing arrangements and being low-wage daily earners, slum dwellers have limited choice with regards to implementing public health advisory around social distancing, staying at home, or working from home. I, therefore, included an article evidencing risks that slum dwellers take to earn a living under the power domain. In some instances, based on interpretation, an experience of one demographic can, therefore, be relevant to two domains.

Kenya Matrix
Risk & Access to Resources “Slum residents at risk due to overcrowding and limited resources; 37% of residents lack access to a personal water sources”
Risk & Power “Urban slums residents have limited ability to social distance due to overcrowding and need to continue working as most are daily wage earners”  

Utility in comparative analysis

The Gender and COVID-19 Project completed the Matrix analysis for various countries. This offers a platform for a quick comparative analysis. In looking at Nigeria and Kenya, for instance, there are similarities in the risk of exposure to those living in low-resourced overcrowded neighbourhoods with limited access to water as well as in limitations in accessing COVID-19 treatment due to inadequate or lack of health insurance. In both countries, cases of gender-based violence have significantly increased due to lockdowns and the issue has been pushed up in the policy agenda. While in Nigeria, this has resulted in structural changes such as domestication of the Violence in Person Prohibition by a number of states and a declaration of a state of emergency on rape, in Kenya resource allocation prioritizing COVID-19 response in police enforcement and health care still hinder redress. In Nigeria and Brazil, health care workers, predominantly women in both countries, face violence and bullying in their workplaces as they respond to COVID-19 in the frontlines. In Brazil, racism contributes to Black health workers being particularly vulnerable to this abuse. In Kenya, Nigeria, and Brazil, the Matrix analysis demonstrates how gendered division of labour and related norms play out during the pandemic: Men primarily as breadwinners and women as homemakers. 

Kenya Matrix “Women are more worried about food shortage and death resulting from COVID; men are more worried about loss of income, lack of treatment, and possibility of infecting others” “Women give up employment to take care of children following school closure due to social norms around gendered division of labour”
Brazil Matrix “During the pandemic, women are more preoccupied with health while men are more worried about bankruptcy” “More than 11 million women heads of households go to great lengths to reconcile work, children, lack of money and mental health: Data shows Black single mothers are the majority and face severe restrictions on internet access, housing, education, and sanitation”
Nigerian Matrix “Men and boys break curfew and find ways around lockdown restrictions to fulfil gendered provider role” “Women’s participation in paid work likely impacted by increased care work; burden of home-schooling shouldered by mothers”

Informing gender responsive interventions and policies

The Gender Analysis and COVID-19 Matrix is an efficient tool to use in times of emergencies where there is limited time for in depth research. Its utility in facilitating a rapid gender analysis means that real-time data can be generated to inform policy. Since data is primarily retrieved from news reports, it is very current. The Matrix allows the user to identify gender-related considerations for programmes and policies and how pre-existing programmes and policies can be modified. An examination of the Kenya Matrix, for instance, reveals increased vulnerability of pregnant women due to reprioritization of health care resources and transportation challenges during curfew hours. A gender responsive intervention in this case could, for instance, include targeted prioritization of some health care resources and coordination in finding local solutions by engaging community health workers and NGOs. A longitudinal analysis using the Matrix could also allow policy makers to rapidly track the impact of newly implemented response policies.

Make your own COVID-19 Matrix!

Do you need to understand the gendered impacts of the pandemic and response policies in a particular context? If the answer is yes, give the Matrix a try. It allows you to carry out a systematic gender analysis without having to spend significant amount of time required on in-depth literature review or research.

The Matrix also offers a good foundation for in-depth research and monitoring and evaluation. It can be used to identify and develop gender analysis questions to include in data collection tools, codes for qualitative data analysis, variables for quantitative analysis, and gender indicators for monitoring and evaluation.

As an analytical tool, the Matrix, is versatile and can be modified to meet study or intervention needs and objectives. However, to maintain its utility in gender analysis, the domains represented by the vertical categories should be maintained. Topical domains represented by the horizontal categories can be modified as needed. While a gender analysis in the context of any public health emergency or pandemic would likely find the domains relevant as they are, domains such as illness/treatment and health systems/services might be irrelevant in the context of environmental disasters such as floods.

Try it and let us know what you think!