Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for World Population Day, observed on 11 July:
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend our world, reaching one grim milestone after another. In addition to the millions of lives tragically lost, there has been a less visible toll: a shocking rise in domestic violence as women were forced into isolation with their abusers; empty maternity wards as women postponed motherhood; and unintended pregnancies due to curtailed access to contraceptive services.
Our latest estimates indicate that COVID-19 will push 47 million women and girls into extreme poverty. Many girls who are out of school may never return.
In every corner of the world, we are seeing a reversal of hard-won gains and an erosion of women’s reproductive rights, choices and agency. With the onset of the pandemic, resources for sexual and reproductive health services were diverted.
These gaps in access to health rights are unacceptable. Women cannot be alone in this fight.
As we mark World Population Day, let us pledge to ensure the reproductive health rights of everyone, everywhere.