Credit: ‘Malawi Health Assistant’ by USAID U.S. Agency for International Development via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED)

Key Issue Brief

Equity, inclusion and exclusion of those most effected by the pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed and worsened already existing inequalities, increased extreme poverty and food insecurity, led to human rights violations, and negatively affected progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Marginalised and socially excluded groups bore the brunt of the crisis and as a result were more likely to suffer from adverse health, socioeconomic, and political impacts of Covid-19 pandemic.

This brief aims to provide rapid syntheses of a selection of recent relevant literature and international expert thinking in response to specific questions relating to international development.


Key Issues


The economic shocks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic erased the last four years of steady progress in poverty reduction. The number of people in extreme poverty (living on less than $1.90 a day) increased for the first time since 1998 (UN, 2022).  

Effects on those living in informal settlements

Those living in informal urban settlements were especially at risk of transmitting Covid-19 due to the high concentrations of people and limited access to services and infrastructure to contain the virus. 

Effects on women

The Covid-19 pandemic worsened gender inequality, as women and girls’ progress on things like time spent on unpaid care and domestic work, employment, education, availability of and decision-making regarding sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence fell behind. 

Effects on people with disabilities

People with disabilities had a disproportionate risk of dying because of Covid-19, as well as facing increased poverty and inaccessibility of essential services. 

Effects on displaced persons

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the 164 million international migrant workers and their families were more exposed to the loss of employment and wages compared to nationals.

Brigitte Rohwerder
Research Officer
Institute of Development Studies