Building back better: towards a gender-responsive international instrument for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response

Press release

13 June 2022

Civil society and academic institutions urge governments to ensure gender equality, equity and human rights figure in the new International Instrument for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (13 June 2022) – A coalition of 22 civil society and academic partners, convened by GENDRO, issued a Consensus Statement on 9 June, urging Member States to ensure a gender responsive international instrument for an effective and equitable prevention, preparedness and response to future pandemics.

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the global health landscape and has shown the necessity of revisiting response mechanisms to global health crises. It has also created an opportunity to build on momentum to critically reflect on persistent gender biases and inequalities that continue to exacerbate inequities and injustices.

As an International Negotiating Body (INB) is guiding the multilateral negotiations of a new international binding instrument to optimize a coordinated response to future global health emergencies, GENDRO and partners are appealing to INB and Member States to ensure an equitable and gender responsive pandemic response that leaves no one behind. They further call for key aspects pertinent to diverse women’s health, uninterrupted and non-discriminatory access to sexual and reproductive health services, timely prevention and response to gender-based violence and accountability mechanisms for zero tolerance against sexual harassments and abuse, to be explicitly articulated in the new instrument.

“At times of crisis, gender inequalities and social inequities are exacerbated and vulnerable populations are pushed further down margins. The gendered implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls and other marginalized groups are still palpable and are likely to be long lasting. We need to ensure that a gender, equity, and human rights lens is at the heart of the negotiations and ultimately embedded as an integral and cross-cutting theme in the new instrument” said Dr Shirin Heidari, founding president of GENDRO, at a civil society and Member State dialogue, co-hosted by GENDRO and the Permanent Mission of Canada to UN in Geneva on Thursday, 9 June 2022.

“Constructive dialogue about how to ensure gender, equity and human rights needs to start now as the INB begins its important work. In preparing for the next pandemic, we need to make sure no one is left behind” reiterated Tamara Mawhinney, Minister Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN.

The Consensus Statement is currently endorsed by 22 organizations and a growing number of individuals are signing on. The key recommendations of the Consensus Statement were presented to the Member States at the event. Recommendations include the critical role of gender-sensitive data and evidence as basis for equitable policies and effective response that leaves no one behind. The group call on countries to strengthen their health information systems and invest in quantitative and qualitative research on diagnostics, therapeutics, prevention and protective measures, as well as social and economic implications to generate evidence that includesintersectional gender dimensions. The Consensus Statement further draws attention to specific elements, such as the need for ensuring uninterrupted access to sexual and reproductive health services, timely prevention and response to gender-based violence and due attention to the health and wellbeing of health workers.

Public health responses, including emergency measures must be legal, proportionate, necessary, and non-discriminatory and the gender implications must be considered prior to the imposition of any rights limitations in public health or emergency measures. Finally, meaningful participation of diverse groups of voices, including from organizations focusing on feminist approaches and gender equality from around the globe, through a transparent and inclusive process, must be guaranteed and it is imperative for an effective, acceptable, and successful pandemic preparedness.

GENDRO is welcoming other individuals and organizations to join as signatories to its statement.

Additional Resources

Consensus Statement here


GENDRO is a non-for-profit, non-governmental, independent association registered as a charity in Geneva, Switzerland with the mission to advance equity through the integration of sex and gender dimensions in research across disciplines. Our vision is to work collaboratively with partners, identify gaps, strengthen capacity, generate evidence, and advocate for academic research and any forms of knowledge production to create more equitable solutions to the societal challenges of our time. To learn more about GENDRO please visit our website.


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