Finding opportunity in the COVID-19 crisis: prioritizing gender in the design of social protection policies

Melissa Perri, Nick Metheny, Flora I. Matheson, Kelly Potvin, Patricia O'campo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the harm perpetuated by gender-blind programs for marginalized citizens, including sexual and gender minorities (SGMs) and cisgender women. Gender-blind programs are known to augment harms associated with violence and structural stigmatization by reinforcing rather than challenging unequal systems of power. The intersecting marginalization of these populations with systems of class, race, and settler-colonialism is exacerbating the impact that policies such as physical distancing, school closures, and a realignment of healthcare priorities are having on the wellbeing of these populations. The overarching reasons why women and SGM are marginalized are well known and stem from a hegemonic, patriarchal system that fails to fully integrate these groups into planning and decision making regarding public health programming - including the response to COVID-19. In this perspective, we aim to highlight how the exclusion of cisgender women and SGM, and failure to use a gender redistributive/transformative approach, has (i) hampered the recovery from the pandemic and (ii) further entrenched the existing power structures that lead to the marginalization of these groups. We also argue that COVID-19 represents a once-in-a-century opportunity to realign priorities regarding health promotion for cisgender women and SGM by using gender redistributive/transformative approaches to the recovery from the pandemic. We apply this framework, which aims to challenge the existing power structures and distribution of resources, to exemplars from programs in health, housing, employment, and incarceration to envision how a gender redistributive/transformative approach could harness the COVID-19 recovery to advance health equity for cisgender women and SGM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberdaab045
JournalHealth Promotion International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • , gender redistributive/ transformative policy
  • COVID-19
  • employment
  • housing
  • incarceration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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