Embedding disability and SGM inclusion in COVID-19 response and recovery

Blue rectangle featuring two covers for Inclusion guidance notes, one with a smiling woman and the other with a group of transgender women

In these challenging times, those most vulnerable in communities are even more at risk. What many parts of the community are experiencing for the first time through COVID-19, has long been the reality for marginalised people and groups.

This global pandemic has brought into sharp focus the systemic and structural inequalities that exist in all societies – gender, disability, class, ethnicity, poverty, age, sexuality to name a few. The challenges these marginalised groups have always faced, have very clearly been exacerbated by COVID-19.

Whilst our ability to control the circumstances of COVID-19 may elude us, when it comes to transforming these entrenched inequalities, at least on this, we have an opportunity to examine both sides of the coin.

COVID-19 response and recovery efforts must take this opportunity to embed inclusion into all activities to ensure we leave no one behind - at the hour of greatest need and beyond, so that when society returns to “normal” in a post COVID-19 world, we return to a better, more caring and inclusive normal.  

The water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector has a critical role to play in this. As the first line of defence against the pandemic, WASH programs have an opportunity to engage with or strengthen their engagement with organisations representing communities with lived experience (i.e. women, people with disabilities, people from the LGBTIQ+ community, and people from other marginalised groups), ensuring responses consider and respond appropriately to the diverse needs that exist within all communities, so that no one is left behind.  

To support this aim, Water for Women has launched two guidance notes to provide the WASH sector with innovative and practical ways to support the inclusion of people with disability (developed in partnership with CBM Australia) and people from sexual and gender minority groups (In partnership with Edge Effect) in COVID-19 WASH response and recovery, so that inclusive practice is at the front and centre of recovery programs and ultimately sustained.

SGM & COVID-19 Guidance Note cover featuring a group of transgender women
Disability inclusion & COVID-19 Guidance note cover

Our thanks to other partners who were involved in the development and review of these guidance notes, WaterAid, Centre for Advocacy & Research, International Rescue Committee and the Water for Women Fund Coordinator.



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