Do regional institutions promote more equitable governance in the global South and, in particular, do they enable more gender-equitable governance? We examine these questions in the light of regional governance actions and policies under COVID-19, drawing on evidence from Latin America and Africa. We argue that weak regional gender equality norms contributed to the downgrading of the rights of women and girls in policymaking during COVID-19, within both member states and regional organisations, which resulted in women and girls paying an unnecessarily high price during and after the pandemic. Using interview and documentary data, we show that the existence of gender equality norms led to an initial recognition of the need for gendered protections in COVID-19 policies but that these were side-lined, and the rights and needs of women and girls de-prioritised, as the pandemic deepened. We also discuss the gendered costs of de-prioritisation in terms of preventable everyday harms.


This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.

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Barlow, M. & Grugel, J. 2024, 'Regional governance, gender and the COVID-19 pandemic in the global south', Globalizations. https://doi.org/10.1080/14747731.2024.2313808

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Last updated: 23 April 2024
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