With countries on lockdown and household tensions heightened, gender-based violence is on the rise, and sexual and reproductive health services are being sidelined by health systems struggling to cope with Covid-19, said UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem.
In her statement on World Population Day, Dr Natalia said one woman in three experiences physical or sexual violence in her lifetime.
"The Covid-19 crisis 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," said the statement.
Dr Natalia Kanem said, "The impact of Covid-19 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."
"If mobility restrictions continue for at least 6 months with major disruptions to health services, 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries may be deprived of modern contraceptives, resulting in 7 million unintended pregnancies," she added.
She called attention to the vulnerabilities and needs of women and girls during the Covid-19 crisis, and why protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights and ending the shadow pandemic of gender-based violence is imperative, especially in these challenging times.