World Population Day 2020 focuses on multiple challenges - health, economic and social - that people across the world are facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "Human rights can't be quarantined," said the United Nation body, working on global population issues, ahead of World Population Day. Reproductive health, family planning and mental health - among other issues - have taken a backseat as medical resources have been stretched due to the pandemic.
The United Nations Development Programme recommended the introduction of World Population Day in 1989, inspired by the public interest and awareness that was created by "Five Billion Day" on July 11, 1987 when the world's population reached 5 billion.
Human rights can't be quarantined!— UNFPA (@UNFPA) July 10, 2020
This #WorldPopulationDay, see how @UNFPA is protecting the rights of millions of people affected by the #COVID19 pandemic: https://t.co/hswtETDidx#StandUp4HumanRightspic.twitter.com/9XbBptPQ83
"The COVID-19 pandemic affects everyone, everywhere, but it does not affect everyone equally. It is deepening existing inequalities and vulnerabilities, particularly for women and girls," United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said, in his statement on World Population Day.
"Every year, millions of girls are subjected to practices that harm them physically and emotionally, robbing them of their right to reach their full potential. According to the State of World Population 2020, released by UNFPA (United Nations Populations Fund), more than 4 million girls will be subjected to female genital mutilation and 12 million forced to marry this year. Lockdowns stemming from the pandemic are expected to make matters even worse, " the UN chief added.
Theme of World Population Day 2020
"How to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now" amid the pandemic is the theme of this year's World Population Day. "In times of crisis, protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights is imperative...," Dr Natalie Kanem, Executive Director, UNFPA, wrote on Twitter.
In times of crisis, protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights is imperative.— Dr. Natalia Kanem (@Atayeshe) July 10, 2020
This #WorldPopulationDay, see why we must safeguard the health and rights of women and girls, especially during the #COVID19 pandemic: https://t.co/anzRJqfVEB#WPD2020pic.twitter.com/Jx7bBOxoDk
World Population Day and COVID-19
The pandemic has affected both the rich and the poor but some people are more vulnerable as community-based services have been interrupted. Globally gender-based violence has increased amid the lockdowns. The National Commission for Women in India, reported a huge rise in the number of complaints of domestic violence. There have been many instances where pregnant women have not been able to reach health care centres for safe delivery.
A study by the UNFPA says, "47 million women in low- and middle-income countries may not be able to access modern contraceptives" when lockdown-like disruptions happen. Women are also hit harder economically due to the COVID-19 crisis. Around 60 per cent of women across the world earn their livelihood by working in the informal sector, according to the report.
The pandemic has impacted the mental health of people, among all sections of the society, in every country. Living in social isolation, maintaining no physical contact with anyone and staying indoors for extended periods have not been easy. Added to this is the massive economic impact of businesses collapsing and job losses.
World Population Day: Top quotes
- "You have to educate girls and empower women. And that's the most powerful leveraging factor, and when that happens, then the population begins to stabilize and societies begin to make better choices and more balanced choices" - Al Gore, former US Vice President.
- "If we invest in girls and women, the world and all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals will advance forward rapidly as a result" - Ashley Judd, actor and UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador.
- "I think women are afraid to say that they don't want children because they're going to get shunned. But I think that's changing too now..." - Cameron Diaz, Actor
- "Population stabilisation should become a priority for sustainable development, including a strong focus on the empowerment of women and girls" - Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General.
- "Those who fail to see that population growth and climate change are two sides of the same coin are either ignorant or hiding from the truth" - James Lovelock, scientist and environmentalist.