Can COVID-19 be a catalyst for improving women’s health?

August 14, 2021

Drs. Farah Shroff, Bob Woollard and Kranti Suresh Vora, led a PWIAS roundtable focused on the challenges and benefits of COVID-19 for women’s health. Experts on women’s health from Canada, USA (Hispanic/Latinx community), Egypt, Sudan and India, participated in online sessions using deliberative dialogue, an approach which involves listening deeply to other points of view, exploring new ideas and perspectives, and bringing unexamined assumptions into the open to find solutions.

Measures imposed to control the pandemic, lock downs and travel restrictions, have resulted in significant environmental benefits to oceans and air. In some communities, increased social cohesion has brought people together and strengthened community bonds. The negative impacts of the pandemic, however, have been unequally imposed on women and poverty-stricken households.

“Pandemics can either aggravate or narrow pre-existing inequities. The opportunity we have to foster and learn from deliberative dialogue across different contexts (wealth, legislation, democratic conventions, social status, religious and cultural norms, etc.) provides an unexpected opportunity to proactively reimagine a better world for women. This, in turn, can help shape transformational change so that the millions of people who have already died will not have died in vain.”


Maternal and Infant Health Canada, led by Dr. Shroff, was selected to organize a panel discussion at the 74th World Health Assembly, on May 28, 2021, Women Power, Politics and the Pandemic: celebrating women’s leadership.   Dr. Shroff was also awarded a Takemi Fellowship in International Health at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2021-22, where she will continue her research into improving global women’s health. For more information see Panel Discussion.

The PWIAS Roundtable program brings together interdisciplinary scholars, and non-academic participants to explore these challenges from multiple perspectives, develop policy recommendations, and future research opportunities.