The Impacts of Health Crises on Women & Girls: How Historical Evidence Can Inform Assessment and Recovery through a Gender Lens

This paper presents a conceptual framework on the effects of health crises on women and girls with an eye toward understanding the growing evidence base for the COVID-19 pandemic. When health crises like COVID-19 emerge, the simultaneous shocks to economic, social, and health systems can have different implications for women and girls. Research on the impacts of past regional and global crises sheds light on how women’s and girls’ experiences and outcomes have differed from those of men and boys – both immediately following the onset of a crisis and as time progresses – as a result of entrenched gender inequalities and discrimination. Recognizing that much of the academic and policy dialogue around gender inequality in the COVID-19 context has emphasized challenges facing women and girls in high-income settings, our analysis centers on women and girls in low- and middleincome countries. The framework is meant to serve as a tool to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic may be adversely affecting the wellbeing and opportunities of women and girls, in order to identify data gaps and shape analyses, inform ongoing pandemic response efforts, and identify important points of intervention for recovery efforts and future resilience. In accompanying papers, we examine the extent to which the framework’s dimensions apply in the COVID-19 context and where the current crisis may differ from those in the past—and thus where new solutions may be needed.

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