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Women in health and their economic, equity and livelihood statuses during emergency preparedness and response (WHEELER)


The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to control it have threatened livelihoods, introduced new workplace risks and made unstable work relationships even more precarious, especially for women. In Kenya, the face of the pandemic health workforce response was predominantly female. A majority of workers experienced anxieties because of limited disease knowledge, limited access to protective equipment, increased COVID-19 disease exposure and infection, and a surge in domestic household responsibilities, including unpaid labour. Yet the socio-economic and health impacts of COVID-19 on the paid and unpaid female health workforce remains neglected.

This project will study the gender equality and health equity gaps experienced by the female health workforce (paid and unpaid) in Kenya during the pandemic and how these experiences have impacted their physical and mental health, wellbeing, socio-economic status and livelihoods. It aims to improve understanding of the root cultural, structural, socio-economic and political factors that perpetuate gender inequities in the paid and unpaid health sector. These findings will inform the development of gender-sensitive and transformative health systems that can withstand future emergencies in Kenya. The project will also build local capacity in research, policy development and implementation, and ongoing professional development.

This project is funded under the Women’s health and economic empowerment for a COVID-19 Recovery that is Inclusive, Sustainable and Equitable (Women RISE), an initiative of IDRC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Its aim is to support global action-oriented, gender-transformative research by teams of researchers from low- and middle-income countries and Canada.

Project ID
Project Status
24 months
IDRC Officer
Francine Sinzinkayo
Total Funding
CA$ 981,500.00
Institution Country
Aga Khan University-Kenya
Institution Country
The University of Manitoba