Statement

World Population Day Statement 2021

11 July 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic may have lasting consequences on population. 

For some, it has led to a postponement in childbearing. For others, disruptions in health care have led to unintended pregnancies. 

Although we have yet to get a full picture of the impact of COVID-19 on fertility, these trends have provoked alarmist concerns about baby booms or busts.

What should cause alarm is when women cannot exercise their sexual and reproductive rights and choices – whether because health services are interrupted, or because gender discrimination prevents them from making decisions about accessing health care, using contraception or engaging in sex with their partner.

What does lead to healthy and productive societies is when women can make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health, and when they have access to services to support their choices.  A woman who has control over her body gains not only in terms of autonomy, but also through advances in health and education, income and safety. She is more likely to thrive, and so is her family.

COVID-19 has laid bare stark inequalities and weaknesses in healthcare systems within and among countries. The crisis has caused many overstretched health systems to scale back sexual and reproductive health services, which are often not deemed essential. While these services are a human right, they have been shunted aside in favour of more “pressing” concerns. Amid economic pressures and budget cuts, there is a real risk that some countries may fail to restore these services.

On World Population Day, let us take action to close these gaps, because sexual and reproductive health services are essential. Even if health systems are understandably strained, these services cannot wait. Any further delays will curtail the health and well-being of women and girls, consequences that can last a lifetime. 

Let us work together to uphold the right to decide when and if to have a family and let us stand up for the rights and choices of all women and girls.

Related content

Video
To celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, invited UNFPA Executive Director, Natalia Kanem for a Fireside chat. During the conversation, the two leaders discussed the significance of celebrating the day, their...
Video

The COVID19 pandemic has compromised health care systems particularly in the area of sexual and reproductive health. As the international community observes World Population Day (11 July), UNFPA advises against reactionary policy responses, which can be extremely harmful if...

Press
The Government of France has announced its intention to contribute €90 million to the UNFPA Supplies Partnership — a flagship programme that provides modern contraceptives and life-saving maternal health medicines to countries with some of the highest maternal death rates in the...

Pages

We use cookies and other identifiers to help improve your online experience. By using our website you agree to this. To learn more, including how to change your settings, see our cookies policy.

X