Feminist Response to COVID-19: an online repository to strengthen solidarity

Feminists across organizations and movements centered on human rights, sustainable development, economic and social justice came together to launch http://www.feministcovidresponse.com/, a volunteer online data repository of information on feminist principles and actions, as well as policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Feminist organizations and activists have been very dynamic reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic and providing their own analysis through gender and intersectional perspectives, as well as shedding light on the inequalities impacting women and LGBTQA+ people during the on-going health crisis. 

COVID-19 has exacerbated the gendered aspect of inequalities, placing women at the front line of healthcare systems maintenance, while being less able to participate in decision-making processes concerning their own needs and situation. In fact, women often represents the great majority of health workers. In countries heavily impacted by the current pandemic, such as China or France, women represents 90% of nurses in hospitals. Furthermore, while unfair division of labor inside households increases women’s care work and tend to make them more exposed to the virus, policy responses to guaranteeing the continuity and security of sexual and reproductive rights or to prevent domestic violence continue to be largely disregarded. 

In late February, the 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW),  working towards the achievement of gender equality in the realization of the 2030 Agenda, was cancelled. In their blog, the activists Emilia Reyes and Bridget Burns points out that « for these groups of feminists, in addition to local and national concerns, a void in multilateral efforts to address the crisis posed a clear risk for the effectiveness of the responses ». They called for a collective response from the feminists movements to tackle the challenge of bringing a comprehensive, intersectional response to the COVID-19 at global level. 

As part of this effort, feminist organizations and activists, working across global movements centered on human rights, sustainable development, and economic and social justice have come together in a moment of collective organizing to outline key principles for a just and resilient recovery from the ongoing global pandemic, as well as to track responses and uplift collective action of feminists around the world. 

In this sense, the « Feminist response to COVID-19 » website was launched to gather inputs facilitating the coordination among feminist groups and activists that are directly facing the crisis on the ground, but also as a starting point to map out possible scenarios and strategies for the long-term response from policy decision-makers. The dynamic team of 25 volunteer that is fueling the website on a weekly basis by having identified a set of principles that emerged from the movements and cross-cutting human right’s aspects. Moreover, the website was provided with a Response Tracker section gathering several exemples of policy-response to the COVID-19 affecting women and LGBTQA+ people; as well as both Online Dialogue and Resource sections that aims to relay diverse informations such as feminist fundings, calls to actions, resourcing, political analysis… In the coming weeks, a public facing form will allow for individuals to upload information and analysis which, so far,  have been omitted.

The website brings a real platform for scaling up the feminist perspective into COVID-19 policy responses, bringing a reflection on the sense of care, its place in society and the redefinition of ‘essential work’, at the intersection of political, economic and gender inequalities.