Erosion of women’s reproductive rights has been one of the fallouts from the COVID-19 pandemic, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said.
In his message for World Population Day, observed on Sunday, the UN chief called for closing gaps in access to sexual and reproductive health services which the crisis has created.
The pandemic “continues to upend our world, reaching one grim milestone after another”, said Mr. Guterres.
Last week, the global death toll due to COVID-19 officially surpassed four million.
“In addition to the millions of lives tragically lost, there has been a less visible toll: a shocking rise in domestic violence as women were forced into isolation with their abusers; empty maternity wards as women postponed motherhood; and unintended pregnancies due to curtailed access to contraceptive services”, said the Secretary-General.
The UN estimates that the pandemic will push some 47 million women and girls into extreme poverty. Additionally, many girls now out of school may never return to the classroom.
“In every corner of the world, we are seeing a reversal of hard-won gains and an erosion of women’s reproductive rights, choices and agency. With the onset of the pandemic, resources for sexual and reproductive health services were diverted”, the Secretary-General said.
“These gaps in access to health rights are unacceptable. Women cannot be alone in this fight”, he added.
“As we mark World Population Day, let us pledge to ensure the reproductive health rights of everyone, everywhere”.