Author : Ruqayyah Moynihan
Coronavirus will have a devastating impact on women around the world, according to a report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which is the sexual and reproductive health agency. of the United Nations.
As the COVID pandemic – 19 plagues nations around the world, health systems remain overloaded : facilities remain closed or continue to limit the services they offer, including services for women and girls.
The UNFPA report suggests that COVID – 19 is already having a profound impact on women around the world , and many of them choose to skip medical checkups for fear of contracting the virus.
In talks with Business Insider, UNFPA Deputy Executive Director Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov said: “ Worldwide, approximately 70% of healthcare personnel are women, therefore, at this time, there is a greater risk that women are exposed [al coronavirus] . “
“ Inequality is less pronounced in the first world, but it is still there,” Alakbarov said. “Women are the first to lose their jobs during crises and bear a heavy financial burden. This report is a catastrophe within a catastrophe .”
The pandemic is having a major impact on women's health
The number of cases of women without access to family planning facing unwanted pregnancies and gender violence could skyrocket in the coming months.
“ Millions of women and girls are at risk of losing the ability to protect their bodies and their health ,” she said. Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA.
“ Women's reproductive health and rights must be protected at all costs,” said Kanem. “Services must continue; supplies must be delivered and vulnerable people must be protected and supported .”
If confinement is extended for 6 months, 7 million unwanted pregnancies are expected
Access to family planning is a right, but it also saves lives and promotes a healthier population.
As part of social distancing measures, many health centers have closed . Medical personnel generally available to family planning services have had to redirect their efforts to other areas of the health system to help combat the pandemic.
In addition, many women avoid going to health centers that remain open for fear of exposing themselves to the disease and the lack of PID.
Social distancing measures have hindered women's access to contraceptives and, in addition, interruptions in the global supply chain may also cause a significant shortage of them.
For every 3 months that confinement is prolonged, up to 2 million additional women may not have access to contraceptives.
If it lasted 6 months, 47 millions of women in 114 low and middle income countries will not have access to contraceptives; resulting in 7 million unwanted pregnancies, according to UNFPA estimates.
Alakbarov told Business Insider that unwanted pregnancies can have serious repercussions even when family planning is available.
“ In addition to increasing the risk of miscarriages, hemorrhages and miscarriages,” she explained, “unwanted pregnancies increase maternal mortality. Children and households will stay without mothers. A vicious circle begins “.
From domestic abuse to child marriage and female genital mutilation , the UNFPA report suggests that, in the next decade, we will see an increase not only in the number of cases but also in the levels of gender violence.
For every 3 months the closure continues, 15 Million additional cases of gender-based violence, says UNFPA.
If the blockade continued for another 6 months, the measures that would normally have avoided many cases of gender violence would fail. UNFPA indicated that this would cause 31 millions more cases.
2 million cases of female genital mutilation will continue, which could otherwise be prevented
It is estimated that 200 millions of women alive today have already undergone female genital mutilation.
In addition to being harmful to the health of young women to the point of endangering their lives, female genital mutilation carries high costs that reach around 1. 280 million euros per year, according to the WHO.
The COVID pandemic – 19 has already disrupted programs working with UNFPA to combat female genital mutilation.
Over the next decade, UNFPA has predicted that this delay will result in 2 million cases of female genital mutilation that would otherwise have been avoided.
Efforts to prevent 13 millions of child marriages will be frustrated
Before 2030, the COVID – 19 will also hamper efforts to end child marriage: UNFPA has estimated that it could lead to 13 million more child marriages, depending on how long the health crisis continues.
By challenging social and cultural norms and keeping girls in the education system , to date many measures have helped reduce cases of marriages in minors.
The researchers predicted that these measures would have reduced the number of child marriages by almost 60 millions in the period between 2020 and 2030. Changes in measures stemming from the health crisis will reduce the number of marriages avoided by about 7.4 million.
Poverty is a key factor in child marriage: the serious global economic consequences as a result of the pandemic would lead to increased levels of poverty in low-income countries where child marriage is more frequent.
This increase in poverty rates is expected, in turn, to increase child marriage rates in vulnerable communities.
The UN anticipates an increase in other forms of violence against women
The COVID pandemic is also expected – 19 Increase levels of violence. There are already signs that the incidence of domestic violence is on the rise.
According to an investigation by Counting Dead Women, only in the United Kingdom did at least 16 murders for domestic abuse in the first 3 weeks of confinement . In addition to being twice the average, it was the highest number of murders in such a short period in recent years 10 years.
According to the UNFPA report, the investigation carried out by Avenir Health showed that a delay in prevention measures will lead to another 2 million more cases of intimate partner violence in 2020 – 2021. This translates into almost 200 millions fewer cases of violence that could be avoided for 2030.
In the short term, the main driver of this violence is likely to be the effects of confinement and movement restrictions, which can increase the contact time of women with their violent partners.
Increased family tensions and economic tensions can also contribute to this.
If confinement lasts for 3 months, it is estimated that if the violence increases by 20%, there will be others 15 millions of cases of gender violence in 2020.
This figure will jump to 31 million cases if it were extended 6 months and 61 millions if it lasted one year.
Both developing and developed countries will be affected
The suffering of women will have repercussions in their communities and in the economies of the countries.
“ The COVID map – 19 is a map of poverty, social exclusion and lack of investment in social and economic development , “added Alakbarov.
UNFPA is working with different governments to prioritize the needs of women and girls of reproductive age and respond urgently during the crisis.
Alakbarov said that, to address the structural inequalities that girls and women face; people, nations and companies must reconsider their roles in society.
“ It is necessary to re-prioritize national budgets ,” he stressed. “Governments have to reconsider [sus prioridades], as well as citizens and private sectors. If we do not do it in the next 6 months, we will see that these estimates will come true.”
“ This crisis has shown us that the real threat to national security is not military, but comes from insufficient investment in basic social goods and social services. women should be a priority , “Alakbarov said.
“ Every dollar invested in women's education and health returns $ 3 to the economy a,” Alakbarov said. “ It is practically the smartest investment that any government or society can make “.
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