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Strengthen gender mainstreaming in WHO’s pandemic response

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR) and the Review Committee of  International Health Regulations (IHR) are important opportunities to consider the World Health Organization (WHO) and states’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic from a gender perspective. National governments are responsible for developing and implementing laws and policies to respond to crises, and mitigating outbreak impacts on different sectors of society.

While we welcome the inclusion of gendered concerns (including protections for gender-based violence and women’s ability to access sexual and reproductive health services) for the first time in recommendations issued to IHR States Parties upon the declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) for COVID-19, we believe that any review of the IHR must mainstream gender in planned actions and obligations.

WHO is responsible for global priority-setting and coordination, information dissemination and knowledge sharing. IHR must mainstream gender in planned actions and obligations. This brief by Women in Global Health and the Gender and COVID-19 Project provides advice for gender mainstreaming as states and WHO i) prepare for an outbreak, ii) engage in decision making and advice during the crisis and iii) respond to epidemics and potential pandemics.

By placing gender at the heart of pandemic responses the IPPPR can revolutionise international health regulations. Do things differently now to secure future gains.

Sumegha Asthana, Sara E Davies, Roopa Dhatt, Ann Keeling, Arush Lal, Alexandra Phelan, Maike Voss and Clare Wenham (2020) Strengthen gender mainstreaming in WHO´s pandemic preparedness and response, Policy Brief, Gender and COVID-19 Project and Women in Global Health.

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