The COVID-19 lockdown has changed life as so many people know it. Getting used to working from home and avoiding contact with others is the new norm so to prevent the spread of the virus. While the effects of the pandemic and lockdown have been felt by everyone across society, the UN Population Fund said the COVID-19 pandemic could have serious consequences for women’s health. Taking into consideration access to medical treatments, economic factors and gender-based violence in the home the organization said the pandemic may only exacerbate inequalities for women.
Reviewing the situation globally, the UN Population Fund has identified that pregnant women who need antenatal care and women in abusive relationships were at the most at risk during the pandemic. Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Dr. Natalia Kanem, warned that the coronavirus outbreak has “severely disrupted” access to sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence services “at a time when women and girls need these services most”.
In a briefing released in April. 9 the UN explained that while early reports reveal more men are dying as a result of COVID-19, the health of women generally is adversely impacted through the reallocation of resources and priorities, including sexual and reproductive health services. The provision of sexual and reproductive health services, including maternal health care and gender-based violence related services, are central to the health, rights and well-being of women and girls. As necessary action is taken to tackle COVID-19 it may result in exacerbated maternal mortality and morbidity, increased rates of adolescent pregnancies, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.
The UN’s Senior Gender Adviser to the Executive Office of the Secretary-General Nahla Valji, told the Guardian, “there is no single society where we’ve achieved equality between men and women, and so this pandemic is being layered on top of existing inequalities, and it’s exacerbating those inequalities.”
Currently, women represent 70% of the global health workforce so supporting them in their roles, recognizing the risk they’re at and maintaining services they need to stay well is crucial.