Millions of women will lose access to contraception, face unexpected pregnancies and suffer gender-based violence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a grim report from the UNFPA, the United Nations’ sexual and reproductive health agency.
Overtaxed health systems, closed facilities and disrupted supply chains will curtail access to reproductive care for women and girls, particularly in low-income nations, according to the UNFPA.
Assuming six months of lockdown, 47 million women in 114 low- to middle-income countries will likely lose access to contraception because of the pandemic, leading to 7 million unintended pregnancies, the report says.
For every three months of lockdown, 15 million new cases of gender-based violence can be expected, according to the report.
Over the next decade, 2 million female genital mutilations will result, as the UN reports that the programs designed to prevent the procedure are put on pause.
13 million girls may be forced into child marriages in the next ten years that likely could have been prevented prior to the pandemic, UNFPA claims.
“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,” said UNFPA Executive Director, Dr Natalia Kanem.