This article analyses how women governors, mayors, and local elected officials promoted public health and social protection in countries where men chief executives failed to take steps to contain the virus. We focus on adverse circumstances in six cases: Brazil, the United States, the Philippines, Japan, Mexico, and India. While individual women may not see their leadership in feminist terms, their pandemic response contrasted with men chief executives’ hypermasculine bravado and slapdash decision-making. Women leaders relied on science, co-ordinated community outreach, and attended to the needs of marginalised groups. Their stories reveal women’s resiliency, resourcefulness, and resolve at the local level.
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