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Place Women and Girls at the Center of COVID-19 Response and Recovery

Media Contact: Laurel Lundstrom (

April 13, 2020

Pathfinder International commends the new UN policy brief, The Impact of COVID-19 on Women, which suggests measures that can be taken to place women and girls at the heart of the COVID-19 response and recovery process.

The policy brief outlines three main ways to not only put women and girls at the forefront of response decisions, but to inform a more just society within the context of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts:

  • Ensure women’s equal representation in all COVID-19 response planning and decision making.
  • Drive transformative change for equality by addressing the care economy, paid and unpaid.
  • Target women and girls in all efforts to address the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.

Incorporating these high-level suggestions from the UN policy brief into response and recovery plans will help level the playing field for women and girls.

“As an international sexual and reproductive rights organization, we recognize that women and girls are most often the caregivers in their communities and will be disproportionately affected by this outbreak—by being in proximity to and caring for those who become ill, by losing their livelihoods, by becoming victims of violence that may occur during uncertain times, and by their lack of access to sexual and reproductive health care when health systems are overwhelmed fighting this global pandemic,” said Lois Quam, President of Pathfinder International. “We agree with the recommendations made in the UN policy brief—placing women and girls at the forefront of our response decisions is critical to achieving gender equality, creating more just societies, and contributing to healthy and resilient communities around the world.”

The policy brief states: The COVID-19 global crisis has made starkly visible the fact that the world’s formal econ­omies and the maintenance of our daily lives are built on the invisible and unpaid labor of women and girls. With children out of school, intensified care needs of older persons and ill family members, and overwhelmed health services, demands for care work in a COVID- 19 world have intensified exponentially.

These are critical considerations when moving forward in the upcoming weeks, months, and years. Around the world, women make up 70 percent of health and social service workers. The midwives, nurses, and community health workers we work with are on the frontlines of efforts to combat and contain outbreaks of disease. But more than this, women provide three times the amount of unpaid home labor as men.

As UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated: “Gender equality and women’s rights are essential to getting through this pandemic together, to recovering faster, and to building a better future for everyone.”

“At Pathfinder, we are currently collaborating with national health systems and local communities to slow COVID‐19 infections and ensure the safety and health of women, girls, and communities around the world.” said Quam. “Moving forward, we must ensure that women are at the heart of rebuilding.”

We are living through uncertain and unprecedented times. COVID-19 has hit all of the countries where we work. As an organization with experience serving vulnerable communities during times of instability, we remain nimble, responsive, and resilient. We are closely monitoring the virus and implementing rapid-response plans in each country we serve to keep our staff safe, slow COVID-19 infections, and ensure the continuity of essential sexual and reproductive health care. Stay up to date on our response at

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