United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Untitled Document

2021 HLPF Theme: “Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development: building an inclusive and effective path for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”. 
The 2021 HLPF will review 9 SDGs – 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 12, 13, 16, 17

(a)  Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the implementation of the nine SDGs under review: (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 12, 13, 16 & 17)
Impacts of COVID-19 on Health and Wellbeing (SDGs 3, 5)

  • COVID-19 has exacerbated the humanitarian challenges and added to the vulnerability of the people who are already most in need. The pandemic has caused huge disruption to people’s ability to access quality essential health services including sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights services.
  • Healthcare providers have contracted COVID-19 with significant numbers of death and loss of this skilled workforce that is required to provide SRH and gender-based violence (GBV) services, and due to fear of getting infected, people are hesitant to seek SRH and GBV care, which makes it even harder to reach the furthest behind, and to leave no one behind.
  • In 2020, UNFPA projected that around 47 million women in 114 low- and middle-income countries would be unable to use modern contraceptives if the average lockdown or COVID-19-related disruptions continue. As a result of these disruptions, as many as 1.4 million unintended pregnancies may have occurred before women were able to resume use of family planning services. This number could be as high as 2.7 million at the higher end of projections, or as low as 500,000 at the lower end of projections. The impact of the global pandemic on essential services including for sexual and reproductive health, GBV and mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) further exacerbated existing vulnerabilities in the health sector and beyond.
  • Fragile health systems have become weaker, and economies of all countries have taken a huge battering with the poor and vulnerable groups of society left without safety nets to support access to essential services and care. Funding for sexual and reproductive health services and gender-based violence prevention and treatment has been jeopardized as some countries do not see it as a commensurate priority with direct containment of the pandemic. This has resulted in negative consequences on maternal health and the health, safety, and security of women and young people more generally.
  • COVID-19 affects women and men differently. Women make up a significant portion of frontline health workers and continue to do the majority of unpaid care work. Women and girls are more likely to be poor and living in vulnerable situations, making them more likely to bear the brunt of health, economic and social shocks such as COVID-19. As health, social protection and legal systems are weakened or under pressure, the pandemic makes existing inequalities for women and girls worse, placing them at higher risk of domestic violence, abuse and other forms of discrimination.
  • As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, UNFPA is coordinating its efforts at the country, regional, and global levels in support of prevention, response and early recovery, working with governments, other UN agencies, civil society organizations, private-sector partners, as well as with affected groups, such as frontline health workers, young people and older persons. UNFPA co-authored the health pillar of the UN framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19 in collaboration with WHO, and provided contributions to the other pillars of social protection and basic services, economic recovery and multilateral collaboration.

Impacts of COVID-19 on Poverty, Food insecurity, Gender Based Violence & Harmful Practises: (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5)

  • 650 million people were thought to be in extreme poverty in 2019, The COVID-19 pandemic pushed even more people into extreme poverty. The pandemic-induced global “new poor” was estimated to be between 119 and 124 million in 2020. In 2021, the estimated COVID-19-induced poor is set to rise to between 143 and 163 million.
  • Food security and nutrition are foundational to human health, wellbeing and development, and food security is at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the corresponding Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development affirmed that measures should be taken to strengthen food, nutrition and agricultural policies and programmes and fair trade relations, with special attention paid to the creation and strengthening of food security at all levels. Ongoing assessments point to COVID-19 worsening an already precarious situation, given that before the pandemic nearly 690 million people, or 8.9 percent of the global population, were undernourished, 2 billion were moderately or severely food insecure and over 700 million lived in extreme poverty.  COVID-19 will add 83 to 132 million persons to those undernourished in 2020.
  • In the COVID-19 context, food scarcity and restricted mobility during lockdowns heighten the risk of child labour, transactional sex and other forms of sexual exploitation of women and girls, and increased risks of child marriage.
  • Food insecurity and malnutrition are both causes and consequences of child marriage. Marrying off daughters may be means for families to save limited food resources, yet young mothers are at increased risk of maternal mortality and morbidity, and babies born to girls under age 15 are more likely to have low birth weight, to experience stunting, and to die before age five.
  • The incidence of gender-based violence increases in almost every type of crisis or humanitarian situation, and there is wide-spread evidence of increased GBV reports and emergency shelter requests under COVID-19 lockdowns; select country offices of both UNFPA and UNHCR report increases in the number of calls for protection. Most consequentially, food scarcity itself exacerbates stress in a household and has been shown to increase domestic and intimate partner violence (IPV), and data from UNFPA’s Geospatial Dashboard on IPV highlight that younger women are at the highest risk of IPV. Despite such risks, pandemic-related closures have drastically reduced the availability of traditional resources for GBV survivors. In France, following a 30 per cent increase in domestic violence reports since March 2020, authorities converted 20,000 hotel rooms into temporary shelters. (UNDP. (2020). Gender-based violence and COVID-19). Where GBV support services are categorized as essential they can remain open, but alert systems are needed for girls and women who lack access to communication during lockdowns. In Somalia, development partners are establishing “neighborhood watch systems” to identify, prevent or mitigate incidents of violence.
  • Limited mobility, limitations and restrictions due to COVID-19 related lockdowns impacted global and national economies, with closure of business and limited access to relief measures in many parts of the world, millions were plunged further into poverty. With deepening poverty came direct and indirect impacts on food security, health and access to essential services, gender discrimantion, with women and girls bearing the brunt including the additional burden of care work for the young and elderly. Increased rates and exacerbations of child marriage in countries like Banladesh and Yemen were recorded with food insecurity and lack of resources pushing women and young people into transactional sex and heightening risks and rates of gender based violence which we saw sky rocket across many parts of the world.



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