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WHO runs the world – (not) girls: gender neglect during global health emergencies

Wenham, Clare ORCID: 0000-0001-5378-3203 and Davies, Sara (2021) WHO runs the world – (not) girls: gender neglect during global health emergencies. International Feminist Journal of Politics. ISSN 1461-6742

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Identification Number: 10.1080/14616742.2021.1921601


During health emergencies, neglect of gender experiences and needs can compromise the outbreak response. Ebola in West Africa and Zika in Latin America had gendered effects that were evident during the crises, yet governments and international organisations failed to prioritise a gender inclusive response. There is the same risk of neglecting gender inclusive response and knowledge during COVID-19. In this article we examine the consequence of gender exclusion in health emergency response. We ask where can we locate institutional responsibility to take gender seriously to inform and improve sustainable disease control? This article seeks to address this question by turning to feminist institutional theory to explain why gender inclusion in decision making processes is vital for effective response and post-crisis recovery. We argue that the institutional responsibility to recognise gender within the global health emergency regime lies with World Health Organization (WHO). WHO has neglected to mainstream gender into the policies and practice which they promote for the prevention, detection and response of infectious disease outbreaks. WHO is in a position to support gender inclusion practices but it requires the technical agency to recognise the value of gender inclusion framework to inform outbreak response, financial models, and recovery.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Health Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2020 13:21
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 03:33

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