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Contrary to the idea of the COVID-19 pandemic being an equalizer, we are learning that a person’s experience of this pandemic depends on a lot more than biology – it depends on their age, gender, race or ethnicity, location, class and other characteristics; it depends on what work they do, what economic resources they control and what social constraints they face.

As part of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Learning Series on Women’s Economic Empowerment & COVID-19, Soumya Kapoor Mehta (Head, IWWAGE) participated in a panel that laid out key learnings from past infectious disease outbreaks that provide guidance on what is expected in terms of the gendered risks and impacts of the current pandemic on key health, social and economic outcomes. The panellists tried to address questions such as: How do we understand gendered vulnerabilities in specific contexts? What is anticipated and what is new? How far do the second-order effects on women and girls go? And how might we pro-actively mitigate them as part of core epidemic preparedness design, and not as an after-thought?