As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought profound changes to Canada and the world, its specific impact on women, girls, and non-binary people has been dramatic, disproportionate, and deep.

Previous gender gaps have become huge chasms. Gender violence is now called a ‘shadow pandemic.’ Women are leaving the labour force to tend to family responsibilities. Access to sexual and reproductive health care is under severe threat. Governments have used the pandemic as an excuse to crack down on civil society organizations, with LGBTIQ+ organizations often targeted. Economic sectors dominated by women have been hit the hardest.

Just as women are at the centre of the pandemic’s devastating impact, women’s rights and gender justice must be at the centre of our recovery strategies.

Across the world, women’s organizations and LGBTIQ+ organizations are responding to the pandemic in innovative ways. They are providing services and countering disinformation at the community level, organizing in difficult circumstances, and advocating for government coherent responses. They are providing support to women experiencing violence and gathering key data to inform policies and programs. At the same time, they are safeguarding their own well-being, developing strategies of collective care to minimize burnout and ensure the sustainability of their work, and themselves, as recovery continues.

The COVID-19 crisis highlights the urgency of strengthening feminist funding. At a time when the work of women’s rights organizations is so critical and so deeply needed, feminist organizations are fighting to survive. Growing evidence indicates that COVID-19 funding priorities (by states, philanthropy, and development assistance agencies) are bypassing women’s organizations. Organizations at the margins—including those led by Indigenous women, young women, and women with disabilities—are particularly hard hit.

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