The UCL Centre for Gender and Global Health


Flying gender blind in a year of crisis – what does it mean for health?

March 11, 2021 2:00 PM

Join us on 11th March for the launch of the 2021 GH5050 Report, Gender equality in global health: Flying blind in a time of crisis.

COVID-19 is not gender-neutral. From the risk of infection to the likelihood of having your death registered, the unequal distribution of the pandemic across communities and societies sharply exposes underlying social and structural drivers of ill-health and their gendered nature.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have starkly exposed sex and gender as drivers of health outcomes, but COVID-19 is not an exception. Across all areas of health, we see differences in risk and outcomes driven by sex and gender. History proves that sex-disaggregated data, combined with gender analysis, can contribute to identifying health disparities, shaping programmes to address them and measuring whether such programmes are reaching different populations equitably.

Yet in 2021, in a year where the role of inequalities in shaping well-being and ill-health has never been clearer, our Report finds a stark absence of gender in the health-related COVID-19 responses of global health organisations.

So what explains the gender-blindness of COVID-19 responses? What are the consequences of this approach, and where do we go next as we look ahead to vaccinations, recovery plans and the future of global health?

In this, the first of three online launch events for the Global Health 50/50 2021 Report, we will explore why so few global health organisations are taking gender seriously in their COVID-19 responses, the dangers of ignoring inequalities and how to ensure that a focus on gender and other inequalities becomes central to all programmatic work across the sector, even in a time of crisis.

About the Event

Join us at 2 pm GMT on the 11th March for the launch of Gender Equality: Flying blind in a time of crisis, the Global Health 50/50 2021 Report.

The interactive online event will involve a presentation of the report findings, a panel discussion and a moderated audience Q&A.

The event will be live-streamed, so join us from across the globe and let us know your thoughts using #GH5050 #flyingblind.


Kent Buse, Co-Director of GH5050 and Director of the Healthier Societies Program at The George Institute for Global Health

Anuradha Gupta, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Sarah Hawkes, Co-Director of GH5050 and Professor of Global Public Health, University College London

Katherine Hay, Deputy Director for Gender Equality at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Ravi Verma,  Director of ICRW Asia

The event will be moderated by James Chau, International Broadcaster and Host of The China Current

About the Series

The Global Health 50/50 Report, now in its fourth year, reviews the gender-related policies and practices of 201 organisations aiming to promote health and/or influence global health policy. The sample covers organisations from 10 sectors, headquartered in 37 countries which, together, employ over 4.5 million people.

Every year, Global Health 50/50 shines a light on whether and how organisations are playing their part to address two interlinked dimensions of inequality: inequality of opportunity in career pathways inside organisations and inequality in who benefits from the global health system.

The Report reviews organisational performance across a series of variables, providing four years of robust evidence summarised in the Gender and Health Index. The Index provides the world’s most comprehensive birds-eye view of how gender, and other inequalities, are being addressed in the sector. Four years on, it gives an increasingly clear picture of where progress is being made and where it is not, and how organisations are using these findings to drive change.

About Global Health 50/50

Global Health 50/50 is a world-leading independent, evidence-driven initiative to advance action and accountability for gender equality in global health. The initiative, housed at University College London, brings together leading feminists, doctors, academics, former world-leaders, policy and political experts from all corners of the world to catalyse change for gender equality. We are the home of the world’s most comprehensive Index and report on the state of gender equality in global health, as well as the leading global tracker on sex, gender and COVID-19.

Image: Who's There. Dhrubajyoti Bhattacharjee (India, 2014)- shortlisted image from This is Gender 2020