Giving Compass' Take:

• The COVID-19 response efforts need to factor in the needs of women and girls who will be hit hard during this pandemic. 

• How can philanthropists prioritize women and girls when thinking about funding solutions? 

• Read more about women's health in the U.S. and abroad. 

It is too soon to tell if COVID-19 coronavirus affects people’s bodies differently according to gender, but evidence shows that women and girls are especially vulnerable to global health crises.

The COVID-19 coronavirus is a highly contagious respiratory illness spread through human-to-human transmission. Women, who make up 70% of the health and social service workforce, are on the frontlines of the response effort to treat and stop the spread of the virus.

Organizations dedicated to women’s health are urging the world to consider gender in coronavirus relief efforts. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released a gender guidance document on March 19, and UN Women shared a COVID-19 checklist on March 20 for policy- and decision-makers working to address the global pandemic.

“An effective response to pandemics needs to really look at gender dynamics in a meaningful way,” Sarah Hendriks, UN Women policy director, told Global Citizen.

It is crucial to ensure the availability of sex-segregated data, Hendriks said. UN Women is not only looking at differing rates of infection but the economic impacts, differential care burden, and domestic violence rates, which are exacerbated by epidemics.

When health care systems are forced to channel all of their resources to combat an epidemic, sexual and reproductive health care can be overlooked — despite the persistent need for adequate family planning, menstrual health resources, and maternal care.

UNFPA Supplies has already delivered sanitation and protective medical supplies to vulnerable communities affected by COVID-19 in China, Iran, and the Philippines.

Women who are underpaid, non-protected, or hourly workers are also forced to put their health at risk when they leave the home to earn a living, Hendriks said. The World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraging people to self-isolate to contain COVID-19, but for many low-income women who hold insecure jobs, not going to work is not an option.

Read the full article about how coronavirus affects women and girs by Leah Rodriguez at Global Citizen.