A growing chorus of voices are questioning the glaring lack of women in COVID-19 decision-making bodies. Men dominating leadership positions in global health has long been the default mode of governing. This is a symptom of a broken system where governance is not inclusive of any type of diversity, be it gender, geography, sexual orientation, race, socio-economic status or disciplines within and beyond health – excluding those who offer unique perspectives, expertise and lived realities. This not only reinforces inequitable power structures but undermines an effective COVID-19 response – ultimately costing lives.
By providing quantitative data, we critically assess the gender gap in task forces organised to prevent, monitor and mitigate COVID-19, and emphasise the paramount exclusion of gender-diverse voices.