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An Invitation to a Feminist Approach to Global Health Data

The notable gendered socioeconomic, health, and human rights implications of COVID-19 have sparked a renewed conversation on gender data gaps and the risks of gender-blind responses that ignore structural determinants of health and undermine social justice goals.1 Higher mortality among men, disproportionate social, economic, and health effects on ethnic and racial minorities, high infection rates among the predominantly female health workforce, the rise in violence against women and people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identities, the heavy burden of unpaid care on women, and diminished access to essential services such as sexual and reproductive health services are some of the factors that bring to the fore the urgency of capturing disparities and delivering a gender transformative and equitable response to the pandemic.2

Delivering accessible, affordable, and equitable health care for all requires policies and strategies that are grounded in high-quality reliable data and are “conscious of the need to address the social determinants of health, including those related to gender, income, education, ability, conflict and ethnicity.”3 An intersectional feminist approach to global health data—for epidemiological surveillance, monitoring and evaluation, or research—has the potential to examine the intersectional nature of power and privilege, whether due to patriarchy, colonialism, capitalism, neoliberalism, or the many other endemic hierarchies, and reveal health disparities and gender-related barriers to health information and quality services. Drawing on feminist thinking, governments and global health actors can productively address the underlying causes of health inequities and deliver on the right to health, including the universal health coverage goal of leaving no one behind4

Heidari, S., & Doyle, H. (2020). An Invitation to a Feminist Approach to Global Health Data. Health and Human Rights Journal.

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