Sign this Call-to-action to ensure the Meaningful Inclusion and Participation of Women and Girls in the Pandemic Treaty Processes MAY 30th, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed numerous vulnerabilities in our global healthcare systems, economies, and social structures, especially in low- and middle-income countries. As the world is working towards establishing a pandemic treaty to address future crises effectively, it is imperative that we recognize as Women4GlobalFund the importance of including women and girls in all of our diversity in the decision-making and implementation processes. 

In pandemic management, we know that no one is safe until we are all safe. Main structural barriers based on harmful gender norms increase the vulnerability of women and girls in all their diversity, to the current HIV, Malaria and TB pandemics and they will continue on with other future pandemics. These norms deprive us of our voice and the ability to make decisions regarding our own lives, reduce our ability to access healthcare services that meet our needs, and increase their risks of experiencing violence or other harms. Some barriers are related to the lack of access to education, reduced capacity due to career disruption and other external responsibilities or socially assigned roles. Also misconceptions and credibility assumptions around women in leadership. There are still accessibility barriers, like language, access to technologies and communications. Barriers in accessing understandable and culturally-sensitive information; especially for adolescents, young women and girls in remote and rural communities.

Ending inequalities by reaching those who have been left behind and addressing the root causes of vulnerability and exclusion are key elements for the current and future pandemic responses. We know what works from our experience with HIV, TB and Malaria, let’s not repeat the same mistakes. 

In fact, women and girls  in all of our diversity bring unique perspectives, skills, and experiences that can contribute significantly to pandemic response and recovery efforts. Therefore, we must ensure their meaningful inclusion to foster gender equality and equity, resilience, and sustainable development. 

Women4GlobalFund (W4GF) is a global movement advocating for gender equality and women’s empowerment, and on behalf of the following* women’s networks we are sharing our concerns, expectations, and demands about the “conceptual zero draft of the proposed WHO convention”. 

Today, we must recognize the urgent need for this pandemic treaty to strengthen global preparedness. We firmly believe that this treaty must be inclusive of gender-transformative actions to ensure the rights, needs, and perspectives of women and girls  in all of our diversity. These are central to pandemic management. 

As a call to action, Women4GlobalFund with its National Focal Points from the following countries:

Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, and partners urges all stakeholders involved in shaping the pandemic treaty to prioritise and champion gender equality, women’s leadership, and social inclusion, through: 

  1. Ensuring Gender-Responsive Policies and Strategies:

The pandemic treaty should explicitly integrate gender-responsive policies and strategies that address the specific needs and challenges faced by women and girls in all of our diversity through a gender analysis that identifies potential impacts on women and girls. This includes safeguarding their sexual and reproductive health and rights, promoting equal access to healthcare, and addressing the gender-based violence and discrimination exacerbated during pandemics. Additionally, incorporating women’s perspectives in decision-making processes at all levels will lead to more effective and inclusive pandemic management, this also applicable to the current HIV, Malaria and TB pandemics. 

  1. Strengthening Women’s Leadership and Representation:

The pandemic treaty should actively support and promote the leadership of women in pandemic preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. This involves ensuring equal and diverse representation of women in all aspects of the treaty process and in key decision-making bodies, task forces, and expert panels. Women’s voices must be heard and amplified, allowing for diverse and inclusive perspectives that can inform comprehensive and equitable policies. This can be achieved by actively seeking out and recruiting women and girls with diverse perspectives and experiences.

Governments and institutions like the WHO, UNAIDS, and the Global Fund, need to support women’s organisations and invest – not only in quantity- but quality interventions that are led by women and include gender-transformative actions. We have learnt that meaningful involvement of women and girls can shape social norms, this for example by building social capital, trust, and community cohesion. We have evidence that meaningful participation at all levels, catalyses the impact of health messages, improves project implementation and ensures successful development of policies.

Also, women and girls in all their diversity, may face barriers to participation in the treaty process due to lack of resources, skills, or knowledge. Providing capacity-building support, such as training and mentorship opportunities, can help to overcome these barriers and enable meaningful participation.

  1. Enhancing Economic Empowerment:

The pandemic treaty should emphasizes economic empowerment for women and girls, recognizing the disproportionate impact of crises on their livelihoods, as it is for the HIV, TB, Malaria and COVID-19 pandemics and COVID-19. Efforts should be made to remove barriers to women’s economic participation, including providing access to finance, education, and technology. By prioritizing women’s economic empowerment, we can build more resilient societies, alleviate poverty, and foster sustainable development.

In addition to the previous recommendations, it is crucial that the Pandemic Treaty acknowledges and addresses recurring human rights violations that occur during pandemics. This includes recognizing women’s rights that are particularly at risk in such circumstances. The treaty should integrate international standards on derogation and limitation of rights in times of public health emergencies. By doing so, the treaty can ensure the holistic protection of human rights during pandemics and promote a more just and equitable response to public health emergencies.Also, to ensure transparency and inclusivity for civil society organizations, mainly women-led organisations, in the pandemic treaty, the following concrete requirements can be considered:

1. Access to Information:

We call for a treaty that guarantees timely and accurate information sharing with women-led organisations and women in all of their diversity from civil society organisations and community networks. Governments and relevant stakeholders should proactively provide updates, data, and reports related to pandemic preparedness, response, and recovery efforts.

2. Participation in Decision-Making:

We call for a meaningful participation of women-led organisations and women in all of their diversity from civil society organisations and community networks in the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies and programs related to the pandemic treaty through a clear procedure such as advisory committees, working groups, and open consultations. We call on Governments to include women in national delegations to the international negotiation processes for the Pandemic Treaty. It is fundamental to create social and political enabling environments in which there can be dialogues between the government and women-led organisations and bring those results to the international negotiation tables.

3. Resource Allocation:

We call for dedicated financial and technical resources to support the meaningful engagement of women-led organisations and women in all of their diversity from civil society organisations and community networks in pandemic response and recovery activities and to provide financial and technical assistance to build the capacity of women-led organisations and women in all of their diversity from civil society organisations and community networks, particularly Adolescents, girls and young women (AGYW) s, to actively participate in the pandemic treaty-related processes.

We call on Governments, WHO, UNAIDS, and the Global Fund to invest in strengthening opportunities and building capacities for women’s participation as citizens, carers, users and patients in leading and managing health policy and health system actions. 

4. Non-Discrimination and Diversity:

We call to add principles of non-discrimination and diversity in the pandemic treaty, ensuring the inclusion and consultation with  women-led organisations and women in all of their diversity from civil society organisations and community networks representing diverse communities and populations, particularly AGYW, women  with disabilities, women from indigenous peoples and transgender women. In fact, Women-led organisations have a wealth of knowledge and experience in addressing gender-based issues, and their input is essential to ensure that the treaty process is gender-responsive. Consultations and engagement with these organisations should be an ongoing process throughout the treaty process.

5. Monitor and evaluate gender outcomes

We call to establish a monitoring and evaluating process of the gender outcomes of the Pandemic treaty to ensure that the needs and priorities of women and girls are being addressed. Data should be disaggregated by sex to enable gender analysis and ensure that the impacts of the treaty process on women and girls are being tracked and addressed.

The Pandemic treaty must promote and guarantee intersectoral mechanisms to eliminate gender stereotypes and harmful social norms that limit. women in all of our diversity, participation in all the health related processes. 


Women4GlobalFund calls upon Governments and all other related stakeholders involved in shaping the WHO Pandemic prevention, preparedness and response treaty to embrace these recommendations and take decisive action to integrate gender-transformative actions.   It is key to consider that the fight against stigma and discrimination and tackling gender inequalities, are paramount to the response to any epidemic. All epidemics and pandemics need multi sectoral and intersectoral approaches, supported by gender-transformative actions.

Together, let us work towards a treaty that upholds gender equality, amplifies women’s voices and leadership, and leaves no one behind. By prioritising gender equality and social inclusion, we can build a more resilient, equitable, and inclusive world in the face of the current HIV, TB and Malaria and for the future pandemics. Join us in this vital journey towards a transformative pandemic treaty that empowers women and girls in all of our diversity, worldwide.

We finally call on the Governments and related  stakeholders to take important measures to ensure that the Pandemic Treaty serves the purpose of protecting all people and women in all their diversity, especially including those in low-income countries with limited financial resources and fragile health care systems.



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