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Intersectionality as a lens to the COVID-19 pandemic: implications for sexual and reproductive health in development and humanitarian contexts

Millions of people have now been infected with COVID-19, with numbers increasing daily. As countries have implemented social distancing, quarantine and other community containment measures to limit the spread of the virus, data show higher infection rates and deaths among particular minorities. In the United States, African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the virus, exposing decades of health and social inequalities, including lower health insurance access, overrepresentation in essential work, greater health risk factors, poor health service coverage in certain geographical areas, and even unconscious bias among health providers. Such findings, similar to data emerging from the United Kingdom, challenge the notion that COVID-19 is “the great equalizer”. 1 Instead, COVID-19 lays bare stark disparities in power. Among the world’s poorest and conflict-affected populations, these power hierarchies persist, albeit in different forms. In refugee camps, social distancing is a luxury made impossible by living in close quarters. In many low-income communities around the world, the poorest lack access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene to protect themselves from the virus.

Lokot, Michelle, and Yeva Avakyan. (2020). “Intersectionality as a Lens to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Development and Humanitarian Contexts.Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, vol. 28, no. 1, p. 1764748.