COVID-19 and the impacts on women

Burnet Institute

05 March, 2021

A sign of the times: our first International Women’s Day Celebration via Zoom.

A global celebration during a global pandemic

Women everywhere around the world have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Our International Women’s Day celebration this year explored some of the ways COVID-19 is impacting women and girls the world over, and the research being done at Burnet to identify and address the imbalance.

International Women’s Day has always been a significant day for Burnet Institute and our supporters, but after the turmoil of 2020 it felt particularly important to stand together in 2021.

Held virtually for the first time, the IWD celebration this year welcomed an international guest speaker, as well as many staff and supporters from interstate and overseas who had been unable to attend in the past, making it feel like a truly global celebration.

Our international keynote speaker, Professor Vivian Lin, Professor of Public Health Practice at the University of Hong Kong, delivered a stirring speech about how women in leadership will be vital to ‘building back better’.

“We cannot return to the pre-COVID era,” she said. “Because if yesterday led to today, we want a different tomorrow.”

With more than 30 years' experience in public health, and a role during the COVID-19 pandemic with the World Health Organization (Western Pacific Region) in COVID futures think tanks, Professor Lin brought a wealth of information to the discussion.

Professor Vivian Lin

Following Professor Lin, Dr Alyce Wilson presented insights from an important new study into how COVID-19 has impacted women who were pregnant or who gave birth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She spoke about how, out of over 3,000 women who responded to a national survey, only three in four had their desired support person present during labour or birth and less than one in 10 had their desired visitors present after birth.

Dr Lindi Masson presented a devastating picture of the impact of COVID-19 lockdown on women in South Africa in terms of mental health and gender-based violence.

Having been involved in HIV and immunology research for over 10 years, Dr Masson is currently leading a translational research study to identify factors that explain the exceptionally high rates of HIV infection in adolescent girls and young women in South Africa. During COVID-19, the study was adjusted to support the women participating in the study, many of whom were vulnerable or in precarious living situations, and assess their wellbeing.

Watch the presentations:

A final thanks to everyone who has so far given to our IWD campaign to support Burnet’s work to help women and girls most impacted by COVID-19.

This campaign aims to raise funds to progress our research projects addressing issues faced specifically by women and girls.

You can help by making a gift today.

Burnet PNG team

Burnet staff in our Papua New Guinea office gather for the virtual IWD celebration.

International Women’s Day was honoured for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March 1911, and the day is marked globally on 8 March.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Caroline Homer AO

Burnet Executive Team; Co-Program Director, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health; Working Group Head


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