Millions More Cases of Violence, Child Marriage, Female Genital Mutilation, Unintended Pregnancy Expected due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The economic and physical disruptions caused by COVID-19 could have vast consequences for the rights and health of women and girls, a new analysis by UNFPA and partners shows.

Significant levels of lockdown-related disruption over 6 months could leave 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries unable to use modern contraceptives, leading to a projected 7 million additional unintended pregnancies. Six months of lockdowns could result in an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence.

The pandemic is also expected to cause significant delays in programs to end female genital mutilation and child marriage, resulting in an estimated 2 million more cases of FGM over the next decade than would otherwise have occurred. These delayed programs, on top of growing economic hardships globally, could result in an estimated 13 million more child marriages over 10 years.

These figures – produced in collaboration with partners Avenir Health, Johns Hopkins University (USA) and Victoria University (Australia) – are rough estimates. A great deal is still unknown about how the pandemic, and the response to it, will unfold around the world. But together, the projections offer an alarming view of the future that could confront women and girls if efforts are not urgently made to secure their welfare and ensure their rights.

Last modified: September 30, 2021

Language: English