World population day 2020 – protect the rights of women and girls during covid
(SPA media release, 09th July, 2020)
Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has called for the rights of women and girls to be protected during the COVID-19 crisis, particularly with respect to reproductive health.
World Population Day is celebrated on 11 July, and this year’s goal is to raise awareness of women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health needs and of their vulnerabilities during the pandemic.
SPA national president, Sandra Kanck, says in many countries the consequences of lock-down with health services struggling to cope can be hard on women.
“One such outcome is the sidelining of reproductive services including the availability and accessibility of contraception, leading to more unintended pregnancies at a critical time.
“Pregnant women in need of care and safety face more obstacles with the restrictions surrounding COVID.
“Additionally and regrettably, gender-based violence is on the rise here in Australia and in other countries that have been in lock-down,” says Ms Kanck.
“Increased unemployment, quarantine and economic stress on families can put children, particularly girls, at greater risk of exploitation.”
A month ago it was reported that, in the Philippines, online sexual exploitation of children has increased threefold during the coronavirus lockdown.
“Women and girls in humanitarian settings such as refugee camps are particularly vulnerable,” says Ms Kanck. “They are the most likely to suffer abuse, neglect, fear and hunger.”
“Hunger, however, is not confined to those in refugee camps. Last month UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in launching a policy brief, The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Security and Nutrition, warned of an impending global food emergency that could have long term impacts on hundreds of millions of people.”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, there are 44 countries in the world, 34 of which are in Africa, requiring external assistance for food.
“Many of these countries are already battling high population growth rates.
“As Guterres says, our food systems are failing, and the COVID-19 pandemic is making things worse,” says Ms Kanck. “It is thus imperative that we in the wealthier countries increase our overseas aid, not only maintaining food imports, but also contraceptive supplies to minimise unwanted pregnancies.”