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International Health

July 27, 2020

COVID-19 and Gender Research Team Receives Funding to Expand to Low- And Middle-Income Countries

The Team Will Also Launch A New Online Data and Evidence Hub


Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health looking at the real-time impact of COVID-19 on women’s health and social and economic welfare are part of a global research team that has been awarded a $1.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand their work to five low- and middle income countries. The two-year grant that began on July 5, 2020, will support local research partnerships in Kenya, Nigeria, Bangladesh, DRC, and Brazil. 

The funding will also support the team’s efforts to provide rapid guidance and recommendations to policymakers and others responsible for responding to the pandemic by identifying how COVID-19 is affecting women and men differently and gaps in preparedness and response. 

With this additional funding, researchers will be able to work with local partners in the five new countries to conduct qualitative case studies and panel surveys on the economic impacts of the pandemic on vulnerable populations. These countries are in varying stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, with different types of threats to gender equality, varying economic strength, and in some cases, a recent history of outbreak response, such as Zika in Brazil and Ebola in the DRC. 

The research team was initially focused on China, Hong Kong, the UK, and Canada with support from Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR).

“Pandemics, like COVID-19, are not gender neutral,” says Rosemary Morgan, PhD, co-principal investigator of the project and an assistant scientist in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health. “In order to ensure that emergency response strategies are equitable, we must consider the short- and long-term health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic and how women, men, and people of other genders are differentially affected, as well as how gender intersects with other social stratifiers such as race, disability, and class, to create differential experiences of marginalization and vulnerability.”

The research team has found that while more men are dying of COVID-19, women may face more negative secondary social and economic effects as a result of the pandemic. For example, the closure of schools has a different effect on women, who often provide the majority of childcare. Their research also found that women are more likely to be working in less secure jobs and lose employment due to COVID-19 and that self-isolation can be a risk factor in intimate partner violence.1 

“COVID-19 has really shown the importance of using an intersectional gender lens within global and public health research,” says Erica N. Rosser, MHS ’08, a member of the team and a research associate in the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School. “It is very exciting to be working with such a diverse and international group of leading scholars to explore this important topic, which we hope will inform policy and practice and ensure that countries’ pandemic preparedness and response is gender responsive.”  

The team has launched a project website that will host a COVID-19 Gender Matrix to act as a data and evidence hub for each of the countries, demonstrating evidence of gender impacts, noting current policies that address these issues and highlighting gaps in pandemic response.

An online COVID-19 Gender Impact Assessment Toolkit will offer guidance for decision-makers on how to respond to pandemics and epidemics using a gender lens. 

In addition to Bloomberg School faculty, the research team includes academics from Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Hong Kong, Kenya, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom. 

The grant “COVID-19 Gendered Risks, Impact & Response: Research and Policy Guidance” is coordinated by Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.