Article Text

Download PDFPDF

The role of gender inclusive leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic to support vulnerable populations in conflict settings
  1. Kristen Meagher1,
  2. Neha S Singh2,
  3. Preeti Patel1
  1. 1Department of War Studies, King's College London – Strand Campus, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Global Health and Development, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Kristen Meagher; kristen.meagher{at}

Statistics from

Summary box

  • Lessons learned from previous disease outbreaks in conflict settings should be harnessed to mitigate gendered impacts of COVID-19 on populations in conflict-affected countries.

  • During a pandemic, resources for and access to adequate health services are often disrupted due to armed conflict.

  • Pandemics are a gendered vulnerability, with their socioeconomic impact disproportionately higher among women particularly in conflict settings, where this vulnerability is exacerbated.

  • Increased diversity and gender-balanced leadership is an essential requirement in key committees and in multilateral organisations in developing pandemic preparedness and responses.

  • Intentionally cultivating and amplifying female leadership is paramount to creating effective leadership models and gender inclusive responses to improve outcomes for vulnerable populations in conflict settings.


The real heroines in the fight against COVID-19 are women’.1 Significant attention has been given to women political leaders in high-income settings, where it has been reported that women have led several countries’ effective national responses to COVID-19.2 However, little attention has been given to the role of women as leaders and decision makers in conflict settings. In conflict settings, COVID-19 is a multidimensional and existential crisis for many: a pandemic colliding with poor governance, insecurity, instability, other disease outbreaks (eg, cholera), disintegrated health and education systems, and food insecurity.3 These have dire consequences for vulnerable populations in conflict settings, including women and girls.4 Pandemics are a gendered vulnerability, with their socioeconomic impact disproportionately higher among women.5 6 In this article, we argue that cultivating and harnessing the advancements of women’s leadership globally and implementing a gender inclusive lens in pandemic preparedness and responses by including the experiences and voices of women in conflict settings is paramount. This will in turn create effective leadership models, as well as improving women and girls’ access to adequate healthcare in conflict settings.

Women and girls are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 in conflict-affected settings

Women and girls …

View Full Text

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.