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Upcoming funding opportunity: Women RISE: Research to support women’s health and economic empowerment for a COVID-19 Recovery that is Inclusive, Sustainable and Equitable

Women RISE identifier
Women RISE (Women’s health and economic empowerment for a COVID-19 Recovery that is Inclusive, Sustainable and Equitable) is a new initiative to support action-oriented research on how women’s health and their work (paid or unpaid) intersect and interact in the context of preparing for, responding to and recovering from COVID-19.

The Women RISE initiative is now accepting concept notes.

partnership tool is available to facilitate partnerships between interested researchers, decision-makers and organizations. Please note that completing the partnership tool is voluntary. Its use is not a requirement of the application process and in no way confers any advantages in the assessment or funding of applications.


The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to contain the disease have shocked local and global labour markets, threatened livelihoods, introduced new workplace risks and made precarious work relationships even more precarious. Women around the world have borne the brunt of layoffs and loss of livelihoods, sacrificed their health at the frontlines of the pandemic response and disproportionately shouldered the burden of additional caregiving associated with COVID-19. There is a real risk that without efforts to understand the immense and disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women and identify policies that prioritize the needs and health of women, worldwide progress on gender equality will be rolled back.  

Supported by IDRC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Women RISE is aligned with the United Nations Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery. Research evidence generated by this initiative will inform immediate and medium-term solutions for post-COVID-19 recovery that will improve gender equality and health equity. 

Women RISE objectives  

The objectives of this initiative are to:  

  • Fund action-oriented research that applies a gender-equality and health-equity lens to understand the relationships between women’s work and health before, during and after COVID-19.  

  • Support population and public health research aligned with research priority 3.5 identified in the UN Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery: “How have recent economic changes disproportionately impacted women and how can recovery strategies be inclusive and gender-transformative?”  

  • Support the use of research findings on the relation between gender, work and health into gender-responsive and gender-transformative policies and interventions that improve health.  

  • Develop global health researchers’ expertise to conduct gender-transformative research and research on the relationships between women’s work conditions and health status and nurture a community of practice in this area.  

  • Strengthen research collaboration and learning exchange between researchers in Canada and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), especially emerging researchers in this area.  


A forthcoming call for proposals will be available to fund research teams conducting action-oriented, gender-transformative research projects to understand the relationships between women’s work and health before, during and after COVID-19. Specifically, this funding opportunity will support population and public health research in LMICs that addresses UN Research Roadmap Priority 3.5: “How have recent economic changes disproportionately impacted women and how can recovery strategies be inclusive and gender-transformative?”    

Applications will need to clearly outline the health dimension of the research and demonstrate how the proposed research will inform solutions and strategies to improve women’s health and socio-economic wellbeing during and through recovery from COVID-19. Various quantitative and qualitative methodologies of research are acceptable, such as desk reviews, exploratory studies, intervention research, implementation research and comparative research. Basic science, biomedical or economics research with no cross-disciplinary research questions and clear methodologies to advance knowledge about the dual link between work and women’s health status will not be accepted. Women-led research teams and organizations are strongly encouraged to apply. 

The following types of research are considered in scope:    

  • Epidemiological studies that describe and analyze patterns of diseases or health among women and consider different population and occupational factors.  

  • Population health research that explores diverse women’s experiences as individuals and within the society (e.g., family and community, intergenerational relationships, socio-economic groups, work groups and enterprises).  

  • Intervention and implementation research focused on exploring how policies, practices and strategies already put in place to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 influence the relationships between women’s health and work.

Within the objectives and scope of the call for proposals, funds are available to support research in three specific research areas: 

  • Infectious diseases: Research focused on understanding how relationships between women’s work and health have been shaped by and are shaping disruptions in infectious-disease prevention, immunization programs and care services.  

  • HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI): Research specific to women living with HIV/AIDS, COVID-related disruptions to HIV and STBBI prevention or care services, or the health of women in occupations that put them at increased risk for HIV and STBBI acquisition. 

  • Pandemics and other health emergencies: Research that investigates ways the COVID-19 experience can inform, improve and safeguard women’s health and socioeconomic well-being against future health emergencies, including infectious pandemics, environmental disasters or other large-scale acute events with actual or potential significant negative health impact or societal disruption. Projects funded under this specific research area should focus on how an improved and more nuanced understanding of the relationship between women’s work and health can strengthen the design, implementation and impact of prevention, preparedness, response and recovery policies, programs and strategies for future pandemics and health emergencies. 

Women from Meko ma Aka Ikoni Self Help Group at KARI McGill Food Security Research Project in Kakuyuni village, Kenya.
Sven Torfinn / Panos Pictures
Women from Meko ma Aka Ikoni Self Help Group at KARI McGill Food Security Research Project in Kakuyuni village, Kenya.

Preliminary application details 

Please note the following: 

  • This will be a two-stage application process. At the first stage, applicants will submit a concept note. Only research teams successful at the concept note stage will be invited to submit full applications. 

  • Research teams must be led by a LMIC-based researcher (see the list of eligible countries/territories in Annex 1) and include a co-lead researcher based in Canada and a relevant decision maker. The decision maker should be based in the country where the research is taking place to facilitate the uptake of research findings into policies and programs.

  • For teams working with Indigenous communities, at least one member of the research team must self-identify as Indigenous or provide evidence of having meaningful and culturally safe involvement with Indigenous Peoples in an Indigenous Health Research Environment.

  • An organization may apply as a Co-Applicant Organization on multiple applications.

  • An individual can only be a Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on one application.
  • Eligibility details, application requirements and evaluation criteria for the concept note will be outlined in the Call for Proposals. 

  • The Women RISE-funded research teams will be supported by a Health Policy and Research Organization (HPRO) responsible for facilitating knowledge mobilization, capacity building and networking among the teams. The HPRO will also support research teams in building capacity to conduct gender-transformative and equity-focused research. 

Funds available 

The total amount available for this call for proposals is approximately CAD20 million, enough to fund 20 research teams. Projects will have a duration of up to 24 months and a maximum budget of CAD1,000,000 per grant.   

Of this CAD20,000,000:

  • CAD16,000,000 is available to fund research projects relevant to the objectives and scope of the Call;
  • CAD1,000,000 is available to fund research projects specifically relevant to the infectious diseases research area (described above);
  • CAD1,000,000 is available to fund research projects specifically relevant to the HIV/AIDS STBBI research area (described above); and
  • CAD2,000,000 is available to fund research projects specifically relevant to the pandemics and other health emergencies research area (described above).

Anticipated timelines 


March 2022 

Deadline for concept notes  

April 2022 

Deadline for full proposals  

July 2022 

Notice of decision 

August 2022 

Funding start date 

Fall 2022 

Keep an eye on the IDRC Funding page for upcoming announcements and further details on this funding opportunity. 

Disclaimer: The information contained in this announcement is subject to change and does not commit CIHR, SSHRC or IDRC to the requirements outlined above. The final funding opportunity will be published on the IDRC Funding page. 


Annex 1: Eligible low- and middle-income country/territory list.

Lead Organizations based in the countries/territories below can have their costs of participation met from eligible budget expenses. Participants based in other countries are eligible to participate, though their costs of participation must be met from other sources.    

  • Algeria  
  • Angola  
  • Argentina  
  • Bangladesh  
  • Benin  
  • Bhutan  
  • Bolivia  
  • Botswana  
  • Burkina Faso  
  • Burundi*  
  • Cambodia  
  • Cameroon  
  • Central African Republic*  
  • Chad*  
  • Colombia  
  • Congo (Brazzaville)  
  • Costa Rica 
  • Côte d'Ivoire  
  • Cuba  
  • Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa)*  
  • Dominican Republic  
  • Ecuador  
  • Egypt  
  • El Salvador  
  • Equatorial Guinea 
  • Eswatini 
  • Ethiopia  
  • Gabon*  
  • Gambia  
  • Ghana  
  • Guatemala  
  • Guinea  
  • Guinea-Bissau   
  • Guyana  
  • Haiti  
  • Honduras  
  • Indonesia  
  • Jamaica  
  • Jordan  
  • Kenya  
  • Laos  
  • Lebanon  
  • Lesotho  
  • Liberia  
  • Madagascar  
  • Malawi  
  • Malaysia  
  • Mali  
  • Mauritania  
  • Mauritius  
  • Mexico  
  • Mongolia*  
  • Morocco  
  • Mozambique  
  • Myanmar**  
  • Namibia  
  • Nepal  
  • Nicaragua  
  • Niger  
  • Nigeria  
  • Pakistan  
  • Panama  
  • Papua New Guinea  
  • Paraguay  
  • Peru  
  • Philippines  
  • Rwanda  
  • Senegal  
  • Sierra Leone  
  • South Africa 
  • South Sudan  
  • Sri Lanka 
  • Tanzania  
  • Thailand  
  • Togo  
  • Tunisia  
  • Turkey  
  • Uganda  
  • Vietnam  
  • West Bank* and  
  • Gaza  
  • Zambia  
  • Zimbabwe*  

* Applications with a Lead Organization based in these countries are eligible but may be subject to a further stage of approval within IDRC.  

** Applications with a Lead Organization based in these countries are not eligible, but multi-country applications that include these countries may be considered. The lead applicant organization shall confirm its ability to undertake work or partnerships within these countries.