For months, the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging our societies, our governments and ourselves. And it continues to gather pace. With uneven impacts.
Women and girls are at higher risk, not due to any inherent vulnerability, but rather due to pre-existing discrimination and inequality.
Indeed, COVID-19 has been a magnifying lens on the many negative impacts of gender inequality.
Like in past health emergencies, the current crisis has been accompanied by a surge in gender-based violence. Many have referred to this as a pandemic within the pandemic.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that, if the restrictive measures last six months, there will be 31 million additional cases of gender-based violence globally. If the measures continue, there will be an additional 15 million cases every three months.
Due to movement restrictions and the overload on health systems, there is also a risk that sexual and reproductive health services will be reduced and less accessible. Any reduction in availability or access leads to an increase in maternal and newborn mortality, unmet need for contraception, and higher numbers of unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted infections.
By Peggy Hicks, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights