Taking a gender perspective of the COVID-19 outbreak affecting Cameroon is not a luxury – it’s essential to a safe public health response for all. Disease outbreaks affect women and men, girls and boys differently, due to sex but also to pre-existing gender inequalities. Girls, boys, women and men are all exposed to different risks given the different roles they play in families and communities. The gender inequalities that existed before the coronavirus crisis also mean that they will have different coping capacities and distinct abilities to recover. Understanding these differences is essential for creating effective and equitable interventions for everyone.