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Understanding gender-related barriers and inequities and the consequences of neglecting them in COVID-19 vaccine deployment.
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National stakeholders in both COVAX-supported and self-financing countries should review these practical key actions for countries to prioritize to ensure gender equality and equity in the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines towards the aim of “leaving no one behind”.
The Gender Equality Working group of the SDG3 Global Action Plan on Healthy Living and Well-being, along with the Gender and Health Hub at UNU-IIGH presents a guidance note and checklist of key actions for countries to prioritize that align with the core domains of WHO and UNICEF’s guidance for COVID-19 national deployment and vaccination plans. These include steps in the planning, delivery, and monitoring of vaccine deployment.
Gender-related barriers and inequities in communities and health systems negatively affect access to health services, including vaccination. The consequences of neglecting these barriers in COVID-19 vaccine deployment
- Insufficient or fragmented vaccination delivery, demand, and access, resulting in gaps in vaccination coverage and hindering the achievement of population-level immunity needed to curb the pandemic.
- Increased burden of preventable morbidity and premature mortality from COVID-19 and other conditions that are exacerbated by gender-related barriers and inequities in accessing health services.
- Delayed economic recovery, particularly among people who experience multiple intersecting forms of disadvantage and marginalization (e.g., based on geographic location, socio-economic status, ethnicity, and disability) and who experience loss of employment, decreasing income and savings, and increased burden of unpaid care.
- Widened gender inequities and inequalities and violations of rights in society and in the economy by hindering access to economic resources, formal employment, and care services.
Priority actions and examples to address gender-related barriers and inequities in COVID-19 vaccine deployment include:
- Consider and implement the priority actions in this checklist to address specific gender-related barriers in COVID-19 vaccine deployment.
- Identify and act on the known and context-specific barriers that are influenced by gender inequalities to achieve the highest level of population coverage possible.
- Prioritize targeted outreach to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups within each priority population eligible for vaccination, and address the additional gender-related barriers they face.
- Partner with women’s organizations and other community-based groups to ensure accurate information is available to communities, and gender perspectives are considered in planning, design, and monitoring.