The United Nations estimates that millions of women and girls are “bearing the brunt” of the Covid-19 pandemic due to increases in cases of violence, disruptions in sexual and reproductive health services, income disruptions and stress faced by frontline workers.

“Covid could potentially turn back the clock on women’s empowerment. Sexual and reproductive health services have had to be scaled back with all of the restrictions on movement,” Dr. Natalia Kanem, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, told reporters during a virtual meeting hosted by the UN Foundation on Thursday. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, UNPF projected that six months of interruptions in family planning supplies could lead to 47 million women in developing countries being unable to use modern contraceptives, “thereby leading to 7 million unintended pregnancies,” Kanem said.

Rising domestic violence: Some shelters for women affected by violence also have been shuttered. UNFPA projections estimate 31 million additional cases of violence against women and girls during a period of six months. Rates of femicide — the gender-based murder of a woman or girl by a man — have doubled in certain countries, according to Kanem. 

“UNFPA sees gender-based violence as a crisis within the bigger crisis of the pandemic,” Kanem said. “I’m sorry to tell you that in far too many places, those predictions have absolutely become a reality.”

On the front lines: Additionally, “women are bearing the brunt of the Covid crisis in more ways than one because women are on the frontlines of the crisis. The heroes that we are celebrating, 70% of these human beings are female, and that’s true across the health and social service workforce globally,” Kanem said.

“These are the people who are more likely to lose their source of income and less likely to be covered by social protection measures,” Kanem said, adding that the pandemic had laid bare “the very severe and systemic inequality that was under the tip of the iceberg.”

Source : CNN

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