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The Case for a Gendered Response to COVID-19

Main Stage

Programming Partners: CARE USA, Colgate-Palmolive, PepsiCo



  • Six months ago, CARE began collecting data on COVID-19 and its impact on women. So far, over 6,000 women across the globe have shared their pandemic-related concerns with the organization. According to Michelle Nunn, these women reported that they were most concerned about job loss and an inability to feed their families; many shared, too, that they were facing significant mental health challenges. 
  • “Without swift action, we’re going to see decades of progress […] thrown in reverse,” Michelle Nunn

  • The United Nations has released two reports on the impact of COVID-19. These reports show that the pandemic has significantly exacerbated the gender gap: across the globe, there has been a marked increase in poverty rates among women and women-owned households. The number of women suffering gender-based violence has also increased. Marcos Neto asserted that a robust pandemic recovery necessitates a focus on “aspects of the economy that speak directly to women,” namely the care economy and the informal economy. 
  • Colgate-Palmolive’s #SafeHands Initiative involved the rapid production and distribution of some 25 million bars of soap to the world’s most vulnerable communities. Importantly, revealed Anne-Marie Motte, these bars of soap serve as a powerful educational tool: each bar contains information in various languages about proper health and hygiene practices. 
  • Women comprise the vast majority of the global health workforce. Yet, explained Jenna Daugherty, owing to factors such as workplace harassment, lack of caregiver coverage, and internalized gender norms, they face a multitude of barriers when it comes to access to leadership roles in the field. Abbott is working to prioritize the voices of women health workers on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.

“I’m a little worried about backtracking on advancements, particularly for women’s economic empowerment and development, but I also think that this is our greatest opportunity in terms of recovery and building resilience, because we’ve seen when we work around the world that women are creative, they understand their communities’ needs, and they can mobilize and deploy resources in really innovative ways,” Jenna Daugherty

  • Tina Bigalke emphasized PepsiCo’s commitment to putting the health and safety of its employees first. At the onset of the pandemic, the beverage giant rapidly implemented safety protocols at all its facilities, expanded work flexibility policies, and enhanced childcare and educational support for its workers.

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • Attendees were encouraged to sign CARE’s petition to urge Congress to put women and girls at the center of COVID-19 relief. Sign the petition here
  • PepsiCo and CARE have joined forces to implement She Feeds the World, a training program supporting women farmers. 
  • PepsiCo recently announced a $20 million partnership with USAID to support women-led suppliers and women-owned businesses in the agricultural sector.


Session Speakers