Global accountability to prevent pandemics

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Gender, Equity and Human Rights at the heart of the pandemic convention

Side-event to the World Health Assembly (online)


Epidemics and pandemics, such as the COVID-19, have a great impact on people’s lives and societies, from education, to economics and health. However, it has an unequal and devastating impact on the already most marginalized groups, such as women, LGBTI+ persons, migrants, drug users and sex workers.

During the pandemic, several countries all over the world faced widespread losses in access to sexual and reproductive health information, and increased concerns over gender-based violence.

Life-saving sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, faced severe disruptions, leading to an increase of maternal mortality. Simultaneously, lockdowns and economic challenges increased the incidence of gender-based violence and harmful practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation. Young people felt vulnerable to harassment, sexual, physical, emotional or financial abuse. The closure of schools hindered access to comprehensive sexuality education, and exposed girls to sexual activity and violence, increasing adolescent pregnancy and transmission of STIs, including HIV.

With a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities, especially women and girls, the COVID-

19 pandemic brought great human rights violations and drawbacks on sexual and reproductive rights all over the world.


Between the 22nd and the 28th of May 2022, global leaders will gather at the World Health Assembly to discuss the future of the global health architecture. Considering the negotiations of an international legal instrument for pandemic response and preparedness, it is fundamental that political leaders, especially parliamentarians, take the opportunity to advocate for the inclusion of a human rights and gender equality approach in the future pandemic convention.

For this reason, UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Diseases is organizing an online side-event to the World Health Assembly 2022, to discuss the importance of the principle of equity in the pandemic convention, as well as the human-centric perspectives.


Considering the discussed context, on the 26th  of May of 2022, UNITE is organizing an online side- event to the WHA and within the pandemic convention negotiations, to discuss the following topics:

•   The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other pandemics on women’s rights;

•   The pandemic convention and the equity principle;

•   The human rights and gender equality approaches to the pandemic convention;

•   The role of parliamentarians in advocating for the inclusion of human rights and gender equality approaches in the pandemic convention.


  • Honorable Gabriela Cuevas (Co-Chair of UHC 2030, Former MP of Mexico)
  • Dr. Jorge Saavedra (Executive Director of AHF Global Public Health Institute at the University of Miami)
  • Naomi Burke-Shyne (Executive director of Harm Reduction International)
  • Shirin Heidari (Senior researcher at the Geneva Graduate Institute, Founding President of GENDRO)


26th May 2022 | 14:00 CEST Moderated by Hon. Gabriela Cuevas

Time Session Organization
5 minutes Welcome and introductory remarks Hon. Gabriela Cuevas   Co-chair of UHC 2030; Former MP of Mexico
15 minutes How to approach the next pandemic – the equity principle Dr. Jorge Saavedra   Executive director of the AHF Global Public Health Institute at the University of Miami
15 minutes Including a fundamental perspective of human rights in the convention Naomi Burke-Shyne     Executive director of Harm Reduction International
15 minutes The impact of COVID-19 and other pandemics on women’s rights and the need to include a gender perspective in the convention Shirin Heidari   Senior researcher at the Geneva Graduate Intitute; Founding President of GENDRO
35 minutes Roundtable discussion Members of Parliament
5 minutes Closing remarks Hon. Gabriela Cuevas   Co-chair of UHC 2030; Former MP of Mexico

Registration Link


UNITE is a global network of parliamentarians committed to driving political change and impact to end infectious diseases as a global health threat until 2030. UNITE has more than 215 members in more than 75 countries worldwide and divides its activities in ten regions, called chapters, led by its Co- Chairs and Executive Board.

The Panel for a Global Public Health Convention is a coalition of global leaders working to strengthen the ability of the world to prevent, prepare, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks before they become widespread pandemics. The Panel was formed in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), is the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services over 1.5 million individuals in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe and is a global leader in health policy advocacy.

Harm Reduction International is a leading non-governmental organisation working to reduce the negative health, social and human rights impact of drug use and drug policy by promoting evidence- based public health policies and practices, and human rights-based approaches to drugs.

UHC2030 is the global movement to build stronger health systems for UHC. It provides a platform to convene and build connections through joint high-level events or gathering of experts and contributes advocacy, tools, guidance, knowledge, and learning.