Equity, Gender & Education: UNU-IIGH co-chairs the T20 Taskforce on Global Health & COVID-19

, , , , , , , , ,

  • 2021•10•06     Kuala Lumpur

    This piece highlights the contribution of UNU-IIGH to COVID-19 policy and evidence generation as co-chair of the Taskforce on Global Health and Covid-19 for T20 and co-author of three T20 policy briefs on Equity, Gender, Schools and EducationT20 is an idea bank to G20, which connects top research institutions and think tanks, and gathers research-based policy recommendations for consideration by the G20 representatives. The task force is culminating this year’s work with the T20 Summit held on October 4-6.

    By Rachel Si Jing Tan, Research Intern


    Task Force 1 of T20: Global Health and Covid-19

    Covid-19 has disrupted and potentially reversed the progress towards global health equity. The vulnerable groups and marginalised populations including girls, women, children, and adolescents have been disproportionately disadvantaged from the unprecedented global shock posed by this pandemic.To advocate for global health equity in pandemic preparedness, response and recovery, UNU-IIGH and UNU CRIS published policy briefs on the challenges of Covid-19 and proposed recommendations for framework redesign.


    Access to Education During Public Health Emergencies: Keep Schools Open

    School closures have irrevocably led to immediate repercussions, leaving scarring effects on adolescents and children, from physical and mental health to their lifetime earnings and employment. Compounded by the perpetuating unequal gender norms, girls are at high risk of permanently dropping out from schools, adolescent pregnancies, child marriages and physical and sexual violence and abuse. Of all, the marginalised and the poorest are enduring the most significant impact from this health threat. In response to the social and economic inequality consequences of school closure during the pandemic, the policy brief proposes to:

    1. Reassert education as a fundamental right: consider school closures only as a measure of last resort and only if recommended by the WHO;
    2. Include plans for education as part of pandemic preparedness, response and recovery – and invest accordingly; and
    3. Track child-related policies and outcomes in real-time.


    Beyond the Tyranny of the Urgent: Long-term Systemic and Intersectoral Reforms on Gender-related Health Barriers in COVID-19 Recovery

    The pre-existing gender-related structural inequalities and barriers in women’s healthcare access are amplified and exacerbated by this pandemic. From undermining women’s health needs and autonomy to make decisions, the effort to incorporate a gender equity lens in structural and policy reforms have been limited. Therefore, the policy brief recommends to:

    1. Develop a global evidence base to inform policy decisions and to monitor and evaluate the gendered impact of policies through the creation of infrastructure for the production and sharing of gender data;
    2. Reform gender inequities in health systems and policy design; and
    3. Influence and contribute to reforms of health and non-health policies to better value care work.


    Global Equity for Global Health

    “Taking a truly global view of health equity requires us to consider the inequitable distribution of health not only across countries, but also within countries, regions, cities and neighbourhoods.” Likewise, it is essential to understand the foundational causes of health and the inequitable distribution of resources. With a vision of achieving true global health equity, the policy brief proposes to:

    1. Develop truly global metrics of health inequity;
    2. Develop a forum for global health equity;
    3. Document inequities across and within countries that were present before Covid-19 and those that have been widened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
    4. Develop systems of global accountability for health equity.


    Regional Collective Action to Address COVID-19 and Prepare for Future Pandemics

    The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the under-preparedness of most nations for cross-border health threats independently. Regional solidarity is a pivotal component in responding to health threats with resources, knowledge sharing, and advocacy at the regional and global levels. To support the objective of inter-regional cooperation, the policy brief recommends that G20 members:

    1. Demonstrate regional leadership and empower regional organisations;
    2. Reaffirm their support to the WHO, as well as established and nascent regional efforts to address health issues;
    3. Promote the consideration of regional needs and action in upcoming discussions and negotiations around pandemics;
    4. Invest in scaling-up capacity for data sharing within regions and the regional capacity to produce supplies, vaccines and medicines; and
    5. Forster and provide venues for South-South and North-South sharing of lessons learned and cooperation.


    The future of global health

    Reimagining global health governance architecture is a sine qua non for global equity to achieve global resilience. The inequitable disruptive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic should serve as a catalyst for new equitable, inclusive initiatives for global health and global accountability. The policy briefs recommend to:

    1. Invest in inclusive and sustainable initiatives to integrate education and gender equity lens to inform policy designs during pandemic preparedness, response and recovery;
    2. Expand and modernise the global metrics of health inequity by incorporating the social determinants of health and gender data and tracking child-related policies to monitor inequities, ensure equitable representation of the vulnerable populations, and reshape the policy; and
    3. To support and foster regional cooperation for a coordinated health response subject to regional needs.


    Access other UNU-IIGH Policy Briefs via the UNU Collections.