The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, projects that if lockdown measures continue for another six months with major disruptions to health services, 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries may not be able to access modern contraceptives.
This would result in seven million unintended pregnancies. Moreover, some 31 million additional cases of gender-based violence can also be expected.
According, the Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr. Natalia Kanem on World Population Day 2020, more than four million girls will be subjected to female genital mutilation and 12 million forced to marry this year.
She said, “The pandemic has taken a staggering toll on people, communities, and economies everywhere. Yet not everyone is affected equally, and as we so often see, women and girls tend to suffer most.
“Its impact will likely hamper global efforts to achieve three ‘zeros’ at the heart of our work at UNFPA – zero unmet need for contraception, zero preventable maternal deaths, and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls by 2030.
“On this World Population Day, we call attention to the vulnerabilities and needs of women and girls during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Positive public messaging around gender equality and challenging gender stereotypes and harmful social norms can reduce the risk of violence. In this, men and boys can and must be key.
“The pandemic is a stark reminder of the importance of global cooperation. The United Nations, which this year marks its 75th anniversary, was founded to foster international cooperation to solve international problems.
“As the global community comes together in solidarity to survive this pandemic, we lay the foundation for more resilient, gender-equal societies and a healthier, more prosperous future for all,” she said.