Interim Guidance: Gender Alert for COVID-19 Outbreak

Published Date

Developed by the IASC Reference Group for Gender in Humanitarian Action

Available in French and Spanish


On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a pandemic. Particular concern, in humanitarian terms, must be for populations in high-risk settings, such as camps, poor high-density population areas and contexts with weak health care service provision, WASH facilities, and social protection settings. 

Recognizing the extent to which the COVID-19 outbreaks affects women and men differently is hugely important. Some preliminary data suggested that more men than women are dying, potentially due to sex-based immunological differences, higher rates of cardiovascular disease for men and lifestyle choices, such as smoking. However, the experiences and lessons learned from the Zika and Ebola outbreaks and the HIV pandemic demonstrate that robust gender analysis and informed, gender-integrated response are vital to strengthen the access and acceptability of the humanitarian services needed to meet the distinct needs of women and girls, as well as men and boy and LGBTI people.

In addition to informing on gendered impacts that have emerged in the COVID-19 health emergency, this document by the IASC Reference Group for Gender in Humanitarian Action includes minimum standards for integrating gender equality into preparedness and response planning process, and cluster programme priorities for a gender-integrated response.

The IASC Reference Group for Gender in Humanitarian Action includes OCHA, UNHCR, IMC, NRC, UNFPA, Oxfam, WRC, UN Women, UNICEF, CARE International, WFP, HIAS, HelpAge, WHO, UNDP and Concern.