New Delhi: The ongoing lockdowns and major disruptions to health services during the COVID-19 pandemic could leave 47 million women in low and middle-income countries unable to use modern contraceptives, leading to seven million unintended pregnancies in the coming months, according to data released by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and partners. Also Read - Maharashtra Extends Emergency COVID Restrictions in State Till June 1 | Full Guidelines

The agencies estimate that the number of women unable to access family planning or facing unintended pregnancies, gender-based violence and other harmful practices, could “skyrocket” by millions due to the crisis. Also Read - Kiren Rijiju Announces Rs 5 Lakh Each For Bereaved Families of Hockey Stars

“This new data shows the catastrophic impact that COVID-19 could soon have on women and girls globally,” UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem said on Tuesday. “The pandemic is deepening inequalities, and millions more women and girls now risk losing the ability to plan their families and protect their bodies and their health,” Kanem said. Also Read - Rs 5000/Month Pension For Children Who Lost Parents During Pandemic, MP CM Shivraj Singh Takes BIG Decision. Details

Here is a quick breakdown:

1. Around 450 million women across 114 low and middle-income countries use contraceptives.

2. 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.

3. This could lead to  7 million additional unintended pregnancies.

4. 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 programmes to end female genital mutilation and child marriage, resulting in an estimated two million more cases of FGM over the next decade than would otherwise have occurred.

These figures produced in collaboration with partners Avenir Health, Johns Hopkins University (USA) and Victoria University (Australia) are rough estimates.

The analysis said while a great deal is still unknown about how the pandemic, and the response to it, will unfold around the world, 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.

(With PTI Inputs)