The COVID-19 crisis has been a stark reminder that global health is a fundamental security concern. The pandemic has exposed deep inequalities in health and social systems at global and national levels, including gender inequities, weakening our collective ability to tackle COVID-19 and generate improved health outcomes into the future. It is clear that the commitment made by governments to deliver Universal Health Coverage by 2030 is an essential prerequisite for global health security. Many lives will be lost to COVID-19 because gender disparities in the health workforce and wider society weaken our response. We can take steps now to build back better and bring the important conversation about equality and health into the international security arena.