Women RISE Initiative Launches on International Women’s Day: Canada invests in research to ensure an equitable COVID-19 recovery

News release

March 8, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Around the world women and girls have disproportionately suffered the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19. Before the pandemic, women were doing three times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men. Data from UN Women shows that women make up 70% of the health workforce worldwide and are therefore at the forefront of the COVID-19 response; in 11 countries where sex-disaggregated data is available women account for 71% of confirmed cases among health care workers. On many fronts, the limited gains made on gender equity over the last decades are at risk of being rolled back.

The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to control the disease have shocked local and global labour markets, threatened livelihoods, introduced new workplace risks and made unstable work relationships even more precarious. Women have borne the brunt of layoffs and loss of livelihoods, sacrificed their own health at the frontlines of the pandemic response and disproportionately shouldered the burden of the additional caregiving associated with COVID-19.

To address the gendered impacts of COVID-19, Canada’s International Development Research Centre, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council have launched Women RISE (Women’s health and economic empowerment for a COVID-19 Recovery that is Inclusive, Sustainable and Equitable), a CAD22M research initiative. Women RISE will support global action-oriented, gender-transformative research on how women’s health and their work, whether paid or unpaid, intersect and interact in the preparation for, response to and recovery from COVID-19. Under the initiative, teams of researchers from low- and middle- income countries and Canada will inform solutions and strategies to improve women’s health and socioeconomic well-being throughout the recovery from COVID-19.

Women RISE takes action on global research priorities identified in the United Nations Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery and is part of Canada’s commitment to gender equality, to empowering women and girls around the world and to promoting their human rights and well-being.


“By supporting Women RISE with our partners, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, we will continue to foster collaboration between Canadian researchers and those in low- and middle-income countries. We hope this initiative will identify solutions that improve women’s health and socio-economic status during the COVID-19 pandemic and as we recover from it.”

Dominique Charron
Vice-President, Programs and Partnerships
International Development Research Centre

“Women RISE is a commitment to redouble our efforts towards achieving gender equality. By strengthening Canadian and global capacity to conduct gender-transformative research, this initiative will improve the lives of women around the world.”

Steven J. Hoffman
Scientific Director, Institute of Population and Public Health
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

“We have witnessed how the pandemic has disproportionally disrupted and impacted women’s lives and compromised their autonomy across continents. SSHRC is pleased to partner with the International Development Research Centre and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to fund Women RISE to ensure that the social sciences and humanities will contribute to finding sustainable solutions that will advance the well-being and leadership of women during and after COVID-19.”

Dominique Bérubé
Vice-President, Research
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Quick facts

  • Women RISE will support up to 20 teams conducting research in low- and middle-income countries

  • Women RISE is a joint initiative of the International Development Research Centre, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

  • The Government of Canada is the largest single investor in health research in Canada. It is also a global leader in the field of international health research.

  • International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

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Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada's health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

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