A Gender Lens: Protecting Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and Promoting Gender Equality

Authored by: United Nations Population Fund

Categories: Global Public Health, Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies
Sub-Categories: COVID-19, Human Development, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Sexual and Reproductive Health
Region: No Region
Year: 2020
Citation: "A Gender Lens: Protecting Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and Promoting Gender Equality." United Nations Population Fund. March 2020.

Access the Resource:

Executive Summary

Women may face heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to their disproportional representation among health-care and social service personnel. Around the world, around 70 per cent of health and social service workers are women. Many are midwives, nurses or community health workers, roles that place them on the front lines of any disease outbreak.

Risks to women and girls also increase if health systems divert resources from sexual and reproductive health care to respond to the epidemic, and if supply lines begin to creak under the strain of the pandemic.

Sexual and reproductive health services and commodities are often overlooked in times of crisis, yet women continue to require family planning, menstrual health supplies and maternal health care. Already, countries have seen health systems forced to allocate staff and resources towards critical care services and away from other areas of care.

All of these vulnerabilities are exacerbated in humanitarian settings. “For the nearly 48 million women and girls, including 4 million pregnant women, identified by UNFPA as in need of humanitarian assistance and protection in 2020, the dangers that COVID-19 outbreaks pose will be magnified,” the guide says. It calls for humanitarian action plans to account for the need to respond to the pandemic.