Some 47 million women in more than 100 poorer countries could lose access to contraception over the next six months as a result of disruptions related to the coronavirus pandemic, a UN agency estimates.
... The pandemic is deepening inequalities, and millions more women and girls now risk losing the ability to plan their families and protect their bodies and their health.
Natalia Kanem, executive director of UNFPA
If the disruptions last that long, some 7 million unintended pregnancies could arise, according to the projections from the United Nations Population Fund, or UNPFA, the world body's agency for sexual and reproductive health.
For every three months that lockdowns continue, the agency's researchers said that up to 2 million additional women may be unable to use modern contraceptives.
The effects will be felt in 114 low and middle-income countries.
Due to health systems being overloaded, the closure of facilities or the provision of reduced services to women and girls, many will choose to skip important medical checkups through fear of contracting the virus, the researchers said.
They said global supply chain breakdowns may also lead to significant shortages of contraceptives, and gender-based violence is expected to soar as women are trapped at home for prolonged periods. Additionally, the pandemic is likely to reduce by a third the progress made in ending gender-based violence.
The agency said that 31 million cases of gender-based violence can be expected to occur if the lockdowns continues for at least six months, with 15 million extra cases of such violence projected for every three months that the movement restrictions are in place.
"This new data shows the catastrophic impact that COVID-19 could soon have on women and girls globally. The pandemic is deepening inequalities, and millions more women and girls now risk losing the ability to plan their families and protect their bodies and their health," Natalia Kanem, the executive director of UNFPA, said.
Kanem said women's reproductive health and rights must be safeguarded at all costs and that the services must continue in order to ensure that the vulnerable are protected.
Due to the disruption of programs aimed at preventing female genital mutilation, the researchers said 2 million cases of such mutilation may occur over the next decade. An estimated 200 million women alive today have undergone the procedure.
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