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Explicitly sexing health security: analysing the downstream effects of Panama’s sex-segregated COVID-19 disease control policy

Wenham, Clare ORCID: 0000-0001-5378-3203, Arauz-Reyes, Nelva Marissa, Meneses Sala, Daniela and Rueda Borrero, Corina (2022) Explicitly sexing health security: analysing the downstream effects of Panama’s sex-segregated COVID-19 disease control policy. Health Policy and Planning, 37 (6). 728 - 736. ISSN 1460-2237

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Identification Number: 10.1093/heapol/czac006


In response to COVID-19, Panama implemented a sex-segregated lockdown policy whereby women were allowed to access essential services on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and men on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The logic was to reduce disease transmission by controlling population circulation at any one time. We sought to understand the impact of this policy approach on Panamanian society. To do so, we undertook key informant interviews with representatives from groups of society that have been significantly affected by this policy across Panamanian society. Framework analysis was undertaken on interview transcripts to identify key trends, which were latterly triangulated with academic, media and grey literature. Firstly, we engage with intersectional analyses to show that those most affected were marginalised groups including trans population, disabled groups, indigenous groups and migrants who faced discrimination as a consequence of this policy. Secondly, we highlight practical tensions that individuals faced relating to access to resources (financial, health-related and beyond), and third we interrogate the methods used to enforce this policy, and the role of the police and exemption passes. We conclude that this policy was regressive in that it affected those most vulnerable in Panamanian society, entrenching existing inequalities. Before implementing sex-segregated policies in future health crises, governments must seek advice of gender and equality advisors and ensure impact assessments are undertaken to understand the burden such policies may pose across society.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Health Policy
Gender Studies
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: 17 Jan 2022 12:39
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2023 21:36

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