In 2018, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, introduced Gender Equality Week “to celebrate the legacy of our progress while reflecting on the necessary work that remains to ensure all Canadians can reach their full potential, regardless of gender.”
This year the COVID-19 pandemic has created a radical shift in not only our individual lives, but also in our communities, society, and country as a whole. As we reflect on Minister Monsef’s words, we are reminded that it is critical we uphold intersectionality as a guiding framework in all our efforts toward gender equality.
In May, Dr. Greta Bauer gave a powerful talk for the CanCOVID Speaker Series entitled “Methods for integrating age, sex, gender, race and other identity/position factors into COVID research” to provide guidance for and call on our health research community in Canada to think about all bodies in the fight against the coronavirus. Similarly, earlier this year Dr. Olena Hankivsky and Dr. Anuj Kapilashrami published a commentary for BMJ Opinion, urging the global health community to examine COVID-19 through inclusive research. Their examples of health disparities among people of different genders, races, ethnicities, or sexualities “underscore the need to not only collect data on a wide range of factors, but also explore how they interact to shape COVID-19 risks and responses.”
Of course, the importance of intersectionality reaches far beyond the confines of this pandemic. This year we called into question what it means to be a dedicated women’s health research institute when there are many bodies who benefit from our work. We documented some of this exploration of gender-inclusivity in women’s health research in our Beyond the Binary web stories. We also made a commitment in our new Strategic Plan to strive to be equitable and inclusive in how we collaborate, in what we prioritize, and in all that we do, by working toward research that respects, works alongside, collaborates with, and supports the health of people across the LGBTQIA2S+ spectrum.
Throughout the week we will use our social media channels to amplify the voices of those who champion this work, as well as resources developed to support research inclusive of and developed with all bodies in mind.