By Sophie Harman
COVID-19 had led to long overdue visibility of the gendered determinants and impacts of health emergencies and global health security. This article explores why gender was neglected in previous health emergencies, what led to change in visibility of gender issues during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the implications of such change for understanding the relationship between gender and global health security. The article explores the question of neglect by drawing on original research into the 2014–16 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, its aftermath and implications for future pandemic preparedness. The article then looks in detail at the research efforts, funding, epistemic community activism and impact of COVID-19 to explain why gender received high profile political attention and acknowledgment. The article argues that the change in visibility, research and advocacy around gender equality during the COVID-19 outbreak does not demonstrate an advancement in gender equality in global health. To the contrary, such visibility reinforces the inherent problems of global health security evident in the 2014–16 Ebola outbreak that create and reproduce binaries of neglect and visibility, and hierarchies of the global health issues that matter, the people that matter and the women that matter. What unites neglect and visibility of gender in global health security is that gender is understood as solution rather than threat. Combined these factors make gender equality incompatible with global health security.
To read the article, please see https://academic.oup.com/ia/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ia/iiab012/6180992