icon icon icon icon icon icon icon

Most Countries Fail to Include Women in Their COVID-19 Response Teams & Plans: Canada Leads the Pack in Gendered Response, Brazil Ranks the Worst

Tim Mwaura / CARE Nederland
Tim Mwaura / CARE Nederland

NEW YORK (June 9th, 2020) – Today, a new CARE report reveals COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting women, yet they have almost no representation in national COVID-19 responses across the globe, and their needs are going unmet.

Canada is the only country out of 30 to lead the pack, with more than 50% of the national COVID-19 response team made up by women. It is also the only country that fully accounted for gender in its response, according to CARE’s metrics. This includes funding and policy commitments for gender-based violence prevention and response services, sexual and reproductive health care, childcare support, and funding that specifically recognizes the economic effect of the pandemic on women.

Gender Equity in COVID-19 Responses:

  • Country whose national-level committee has the highest percentage of women: Canada, 52.17%
  • Country whose national-level committee has the lowest percentage of women: Brazil, 3.7%
  • Average percentage of women on national-level decision-making bodies: 24%

In contrast, Brazil has the lowest percentage of women serving on the national level—less than 4%—and has taken few steps to meet women’s needs during the pandemic. But Brazil is not alone. Very few of the countries surveyed have comprehensively considered gender in their COVID-19 responds, and in almost 25% of the sample, CARE found no evidence of any gender specific actions or policies at all.

CARE’s research found that countries with more gender-equitable national leadership—as measured by the Council on Foreign Relation’s Women’s Power Index (WPI)—were more likely to have gendered responses than countries with less gender-equitable leadership. For example, France, with WPI score of 60, and Ethiopia, with a WPI score of 51, both had more gendered responses than countries like the USA or Niger, with WPI scores of 20 and 12, respectively.

“Women are bearing a disproportionate burden in this pandemic, yet in far too many countries their voices are silenced” CARE International’s Secretary General Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro said. “Women make up over 70% of the global health and social care workforce, and with many also face escalating levels of gender-based violence during lockdown restrictions.” Sprechmann Sineiro continues, “If world leaders are truly committed to fighting this pandemic they urgently need gender equity. Not just lip service, but real action.”

CARE ‘s recommendations include:

  • Look beyond supporting individual women to addressing systemic barriers to women’s participation and supporting collective leadership.
  • Intersectional approaches, recognizing that women who face multiple forms of discrimination due to race, class and other inequalities often find it harder to gain positions of influence and have their priorities reflected


Media Contact

Kalei Talwar, Press Officer



Back to Top