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12 Oct 2021
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Reflections on emerging COVID-19 research priorities for gender and governance of health systems: Please vote by 15th October!

Manasee Mishra, Independent Researcher, Claire Standley, Georgetown Un...+7 more
Manasee Mishra, Independent Researcher, Claire Standley, Georgetown University, Asha George, University of the Western Cape, Mmabatho Motsamai, Advocacy and Communications Consultant, Agnes Soucat, Agence France Development
Global
10 mins
Access Research Agenda-Setting
What you'll learn
Understanding emerging COVID-19 research priorities for gender and governance of health systems

This article asks the questions:

  • How do we reach the goal of gender-mainstreamed health systems across countries of the world?
  • How can health systems be gender responsive and gender resilient?
  • With whom should we engage, and how, so that the catastrophic effects of disease outbreaks are offset for individuals and collectives whose disadvantages are compounded by intersecting identities and characteristics, including gender?

These and other questions were crowdsourced across 5 thematic areas for the research prioritisation process on gender and COVID-19 co-convened by the United Nations University – International Institute for Global Health, and the University of the Western Cape’s School of Public Health.

Five key gender and governance dimensions
The thematic group on gender and health governance
The thematic group on gender and health governance for COVID-19 articulates five key gender and governance dimensions: i) ideology and values; ii) policies, regulations and legislations; iii) actor alignment and accountability; iv) data and research governance; and v) citizen participation (Figure 1). Together these dimensions shape how actors and relationships influence power and decision making in health systems, and the societal transformation needed to realise gender mainstreamed, gender responsive and gender resilient health systems.
Young woman with glasses looking at a phone screen during night time.

Empowerment and voice are core principles underlying collective action, but marginalised groups (including disadvantaged women) face multiple asymmetries of power.

 

Watch the webinar recording
19:48
Key Takeaways
1
Participants highlight that governance is more than the organs of the government. Governance should be the space in which people express their voice collectively and work together.
2
COVID-19 has revealed weaknesses in market approaches (e.g. vaccine supply and access), but has also demonstrated government failures, even at global levels. It is furthermore jarring to realize that collective action can also fail.
3
Empowerment and voice are core principles underlying collective action, but marginalised groups (including disadvantaged women) face multiple asymmetries of power.
4
There are vested interests that influence decision making in the health systems. How can women and gender diverse people, particularly those from disenfranchised groups, exert their voice in collective health systems discourses and decision-making, and be heard?
5
We need to develop more inclusive national platforms and other approaches for consensus building within health systems, and centre women and gender diverse people within those platforms.

Questions about who is included in defining health systems responses, as well as the nature and consequences of those responses feature centrally in the emerging top research questions on gender and health governance for COVID-19.

 

The Top 10

The Top 10 Gender and Governance of Health Systems for COVID-19 questions (October 4)

  1. What do responsive and resilient health systems that address gender bias and advance gender equality look like?
  2. How to best support national statistical systems to produce and use sex and gender data during COVID-19 and future pandemics?
  3. Have vaccine deployment strategy plans included ways to consult and engage with gender experts, women and high risk marginalized groups?
  4. What forms of gendered abuse of power in health systems are made worse during pandemic health system responses and how can they best be addressed?
  5. To what extent, and how, is gender considered in the current decision making and learning processes for COVID-19?
  6. What principles and strategies for linking marginalised communities with government health administrators and political decision makers best support the advancement of gender and COVID-19 issues?
  7. What approaches are most effective at successfully integrating different sectors into pandemic planning and response, and to ensuring that gender is centrally considered throughout in this multi-sectoral action?
  8. What capacities are needed to support decision makers, who may not be gender experts themselves, to enable response to threats from COVID-19 and future pandemics that address gender bias?
  9. What is required to strengthen political will for investing in health systems that address gender bias and advance gender equality?
  10. What are the gender implications of COVID-19 response and recovery plans, the budgets allocated and resultant expenditures?

 

Access the interactive Results Dashboard

 

These results are still evolving; the relative importance of each research question changes as more people respond to the survey. We invite those from as many organizational/professional backgrounds and geographical regions to participate in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese. Your voice matters in this endeavour for an equitable world where gender is mainstreamed and gender responsiveness and resilience characterise health systems at all times, pandemics notwithstanding.

Your voice matters, join us!

Survey responses on health status and behaviour, vaccine & therapeutics R&D, health service delivery, as well as health governance are welcome. Please vote on or before Friday 15th October for the very last time. Stay tuned for final results and launch in early December through the buzzboard.

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