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GLOBE roundtable: The Impact of Covid-19 on Migration and Health. A Gender Perspective

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The global COVID-19 pandemic affects us all - yet its impact is felt disproportionally more by some demographics than others. The crisis reminded the world of persistent inequalities, for instance regarding access to health care. It caused suffering in some of the most vulnerable communities, such as migrants and refugees. And in failing to acknowledge the gendered impact of the pandemic as well as of government responses, be it from national or global institutions, women are feeling the burden even more.

To explore gender and intersectionality perspectives related to the pandemic, GLOBE organised a virtual roundtable on 26 January 2020. The two invited experts, Sarah Hawkes and Anna Triandafyllidou, took a special look at the impact of COVID-19 on people of all genders, analysing questions of health and migration.

The roundtable was introduced by GLOBE Fellow Andrea Bianculli (IBEI), who also moderated the event. First, Professor Hawkes presented the COVID-19 Sex-Disaggregated Data Tracker. This tool provides an overview of the worldwide data availability related to understanding and quantifying the pandemic’s gendered impact. It is spearheaded by the gender equity group Global Health 5050. Their findings show the various disproportionate effects that the virus can have on people depending on their sex and gender. Hawkes underlined the gaps in data availability, something governments around the world need to urgently address – not only in relation to the pandemic but to gendered health impacts more generally.

This presentation was followed by a contribution from Professor Triandafyllidou, who shared data on the pandemic impact on migrants, especially focusing on South-East Asia and the Gulf states. She also reiterated important points about the social and economic cost of relocating migrants in the midst of a pandemic. The case of Sri Lanka powerfully demonstrates the struggles with and importance of properly reintegrating the large numbers of migrant workers returning to their home countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the ensuing discussions, the speakers tackled a wide range of policy-related questions and engaged with the audience on several of the issues raised during the talks.

Anna Triandafyllidou - Canada Excellence Research Chair on Migration and Integration at Ryerson University and Member of GLOBE Advisory Board.

Sarah Hawkes - Professor of Global and Public Health at University College London (UCL), Director of the Centre for Gender and Global Health and Co-Director of Global Health 50/50.

Chair: Andrea C. Bianculli - Assistant Professor at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI) and Head of the GLOBE Gender Equality Committee.