First detected in China’s Hubei Province in late December 2019, novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has since
spread to 141 countries or regions, and health actors had confirmed more than 156,000 cases as of March 14.
Numbers are expected to continue rising exponentially in the coming days, weeks, and months. Initial research
indicates that older persons are most likely to suffer serious complications from COVID-19 and that men are
more likely to experience high mortality rates than women, but this analysis may change as COVID-19 more data
becomes available. Regardless, all vulnerable populations will experience COVID-19 outbreaks differently.
Until recently, the transmission of COVID-19 to developing countries or those experiencing ongoing
humanitarian emergencies had been limited, but such transmission is now occurring. Development and
humanitarian settings pose particular challenges for infectious disease prevention and control. Access
constraints and poor health and sanitation infrastructure are obstacles to disease prevention and treatment
under the best of circumstances; when coupled with gender inequality and, in some cases, insecurity, public
health responses become immeasurably more complex.
Each context is different, and each population within a context is also different—their needs and capabilities will
vary as a result of circumstance and their unique, intersectional5 identities. COVID-19 is not the world’s first
public health emergency, nor the first to which development and humanitarian agencies have been called on to
respond to. Despite this, there is a marked lack of research on the implications of public health emergencies on
different groups, especially women and girls.6 Less than 1 percent of published research papers on the 2014–16
West Africa Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak and the 2016 Zika outbreak focused on the gender dimensions of