The Need for an Intersectional Intervention in the COVID-19 Crisis


A contribution by Prof. Rosemarie Buikema, professor of Art, Culture & Diversity

Although we are all living under the threat of a virus, it has at the same time become clear that the current COVID-19 crisis irrefutably reveals how global catastrophes affect different groups of people in very different ways. Research conducted in a variety of geopolitical contexts produced data over the past few months which demonstrate how privilege works in times of Corona.

Staying at home, washing your hands and keeping physical distance are life-saving and effective strategies which however implicate that one has a house, that soap and water are within reach and that keeping distance is a possibility. Much has been said about the living conditions in townships, favelas, refugee camps and prisons, which make the deployment of these three ostensibly simple life-saving strategies quite a challenge, if not impossible.

gender inequalities 

In addition, extensive data are gathered focusing on the ways in which existing gender inequalities became all the more visible in the context of the current crisis. Data were gathered on the increase of unpaid care work by women, the loss of jobs in women dominated professions like flight attendants, hairdressers, workers in shops and restaurants, the increase of gender related domestic abuse, the consequences of being cut off from regular healthcare like the right to have an abortion. And although women are on the frontline of the pandemic as nurses and health care workers, they are at the same time underrepresented in the decision-making bodies.

intersectional intervention

The current situation thus calls for a strong and intersectional intervention in the ongoing debates concerning the question which social, economic and cultural problems we’re actually facing as well as a critical say in the design of possible scenarios to guide us into the times to come.

The UU Hub Gender & Diversity therefore initiates an online platform where issues of inclusion and exclusion related to the Corona crisis can be articulated and discussed. We invite members and affiliated researchers to share their findings, their insights and their reading tips in order to develop a well-researched position paper which will contribute to an intersectional analysis of the issues at stake and the solutions to be developed.

recommended literature and media

European Institute for Gender Equality. 2020. “COVID-19 and Gender Equality.”

International Rescue Committee. April 2020. “Global Rapid Gender Analysis for COVID-19.”

The African American Policy Forum. March 28, 2020. “Under the Blacklight: The Intersectional Vulnerabilities that COVID Lays Bare”. (first webinar of an ongoing series)

Wenham, Clare, Julia Smith and Rosemary Morgan. 2020. “COVID-19: The Gendered Impacts of the Outbreak.” The Lancet 395: 846-847.


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