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What is a Just COVID-19 Recovery?

Dear Colleagues,

We’ve seen the predictable patterns of inequity play out again and again in the unfair distribution of COVID vaccines around the world, despite activists, political leaders, NGOs, and public health experts alike stressing the importance of equitable vaccine distribution.

In the U.S., the vaccine’s distribution is completely at odds with demographic data of those communities most affected by the pandemic.

Communities of color and marginalized genders can no longer absorb the brunt of the economic crisis and recession. That’s why your work is so important – you are not only infusing capital into grassroots solutions, but you’re also seizing this moment to demand more from our systems and structures so that a global recovery reflects the lives and contributions of all genders and their families.

In the U.S., the vaccine’s distribution is completely at odds with demographic data of those communities most affected by the pandemic. White and more affluent people have disproportionately snapped up vaccine doses—even from distribution centers intentionally placed in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods.

Trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people are another often-overlooked and underserved group, facing barriers to accessible and gender-affirming health care services, especially for patients whose documents may not match their gender identity or expression/presentation.

Unfortunately, this is not unique to the U.S. Just this week, the U.N. secretary-general called on the world’s richest countries to create a task force to plan and coordinate a global COVID-19 vaccination plan, urging the G-20 to take action. As noted by Mexico’s foreign minister, three quarters of the first doses of the vaccine have been administered to citizens in only 10 countries, while more than 100 countries have received no vaccine doses. In fact, of the 80 million COVID-19 vaccine doses that have gone out for distribution across the globe — only 55 went to a low-income country. The need could not be more critical, and yet the disparities are evident in every corner of the globe.

Narratives that question the vaccine’s safety have proliferated online, making some women more hesitant to be vaccinated. Despite scant scientific evidence of safety issues for women related to COVID-19 inoculation, the history of medical racism and reproductive violence inflicted upon women of color create justifiable distrust. In addition, pregnant women were excluded from three quarters of COVID treatment and vaccine trials, despite the fact that pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are more likely to end up in intensive care than other patients. While this does not indicate that the vaccine is unsafe for pregnant women or women who hope to become pregnant, the omission adds fuel to unfounded claims online and reflects a broader pattern of women’s continued exclusion from clinical trials and other important medical research. 

Trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people are another often-overlooked and underserved group, as those seeking vaccines also face the all-too-familiar barriers to accessible and gender-affirming health care services, especially for patients whose documents may not match their gender identity or expression/presentation. This week, Women’s Funding Network moderated a discussion in partnership with Funders for Reproductive Equity and Funders for LGBTQ Issues, which explored the impact of COVID-19 on Black and Brown TGNC lives, as well as opportunities for funders to partner with TGNC-led organizations to make meaningful, positive change. 

To learn more about how philanthropy can support Black and Brown trans and gender non-conforming people and other communities disparately impacted by COVID-19, please check out all our discussions here

Thank you for all you do to create a more inclusive and just world for all. We need you now, more than ever. 

Yours for equity and justice,

Elizabeth Signature

Elizabeth Barajas-Román
Women’s Funding Network 
President & CEO

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