COVID Gender-Disaggregated Data Reveals Groups Being Left Behind in National Responses

The COVID-19 Sex-Disaggregated Data Tracker investigates what roles sex and gender are playing in the outbreak, building the evidence base of what works to tackle gender disparities in health outcomes, and advocating for effective gender-responsive approaches to COVID-19.

(GlobalHealth5050.org)

Inadequate data on COVID-19’s effects on women and men is leading to poor gender-responsive approaches.

The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), Global Health 50/50 and the African Population and Health Research Center released a groundbreaking dashboard that aims to combat these issues and trace COVID-19 infections by gender and sex.

The Sex, Gender and COVID-19 Project tracks 173 countries to expand gender data access and track global health. One of the most comprehensive dashboards on global health, it plays a vital role by illustrating the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on men and women.

According to the dashboard, 75 countries haven’t tracked data separately for women and men affected by COVID-19, making it difficult for proper gender responsive health programs to be implemented. 

Moreover, while men are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19, basing data solely on sex excludes or misrepresents transgender and non-binary people. 

“Across the 56 countries that make such data available, the dashboard shows that men account for 40 percent more COVID-19 deaths. It further shows gendered differences along the clinical pathway, from testing through to intensive care admissions,” reported ICRW in a press release.

The goal is that this data will be used by research establishments, governments, and community members to create more effective responses to COVID-19. “This data is crucial if governments and regions are to put in gender responsive health programs,” said Joe Shaffner, senior communications manager for ICRW.


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So far, the project has found stark gender differences in COVID-19 infection rates and health outcomes. Social environments play a major role in who is at risk and what resources are available. 

“COVID-19 has shed light on the significant social inequities that are borne by women, girls and marginalized communities worldwide,” says Dr. Ravi Verma, director of ICRW Asia. He continued,

“Reports from India indicate that men are more likely to test positive for COVID-19. This may be because men suffer from higher rates of comorbidities and because inequalities keep women from accessing health services, including COVID-19 testing. However, comprehensive data disaggregated by sex is hard to come by. Governments will have to dig deep to counter the compounding impact on women, girls and other marginalized communities – and that starts with data that brings inequalities to light.”

Global Health 50/50 co-founder and expert in global public health Professor Sarah Hawkes emphasized the importance of making data transparent and readily available.

“Ensuring that this data is accessible to policy-makers, researchers, advocates and the public will mean more effective, equitable and evidence-informed solutions are possible—thus helping to turn the tide of the pandemic and build back better,” Hawkes explained.


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About

Ashley Lynn Priore—a social entrepreneur, writer, public servant and innovative speaker—is the founder, president and CEO of Queen's Gambit, a national nonprofit using chess as a catalyst for change. Ashley is the author of Let's Learn Chess! and is currently completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh.