The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has warned that the coronavirus pandemic could spell disaster for women’s rights around the world.
It says lockdowns and school closures designed to contain the spread of COVID-19 could critically undermine progress made in family planning, as well as causing an increase in child marriage and female genital mutilation.
“It’s a catastrophic situation,” UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem told Euronews.
“Given that women and girls were already at a disadvantage when it came to contraception, now that we’ve layered the COVID pandemic on top of that, we are calculating that millions of women and girls around the world are going to be at risk of violence.
“They’re going to be at risk of unintended pregnancies, and unattended pregnancies without a midwife, as well as things like child marriage, as the pandemic rages on.”
UNFPA, the U.N. agency focused on sexual and reproductive health, examines how lockdowns are disrupting access to family planning, health services and prevention programmes that make a major difference for women in low- and middle-income countries.
As many countries restrict movement to fight the spread of COVID-19 – and the crisis heaps social and economic stress on families – the United Nations has warned of a “horrifying global surge in domestic violence.”
It says that the number of women and girls facing abuse has increased in almost all countries, and that in the next six months alone over 30 million women will suffer violence as a result of COVID-19 confinement measures.