• Epidemics are a gendered vulnerability, with their socioeconomic impact disproportionately high among women, even when, as it seems the case with COVID-19, mortality is higher among men.

  • However, women are not only a vulnerable population, they can serve as agents of change whose contributions can improve epidemic response and recovery.

  • In COVID-19 response and recovery, existing lack of diversity and gender representation in decision-making means perspectives of some of the most vulnerable communities are left out.

  • The evidence and lessons from peace, disaster and business sectors suggest that lack of diversity and failing to leverage women’s expertise and talent in decision-making can limit an effective response.

  • In addition to being ethical, diverse and gender inclusive decision-making will yield innovation and knowledge dividends, limit group-think and promote greater accountability for an adaptive response and resilient recovery to COVID-19.


Copyright information: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/'>https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/'>https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Cite as

Bali, S., Dhatt, R., Lal, A., Jama, A., Van Daalen, K., Sridhar, D. & Gender and COVID-19 Working Group 2020, 'Off the back burner: diverse and gender-inclusive decision-making for COVID-19 response and recovery', BMJ Global Health, 5(5), article no: e002595. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2020-002595

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Last updated: 17 June 2022
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