World Population Day 2022

“These gaps in access to health rights are unacceptable. Women cannot be alone in this fight. As we mark World population Day, let us pledge to ensure the reproductive health rights of everyone, everywhere.”  UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

In this third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that the pandemic has compromised health care systems globally. Most especially in the area of sexual and reproductive health. Gender based inequalities have been exposed and exacerbated: gender based violence under lockdowns; disruption of programmes preventing child marriage and female genital mutilation; and access to quality and acceptable maternity care. Significant numbers of women left the workforce or became underemployed, low paying jobs were eliminated or caregiving responsibilities for children learning remotely or care for home bound older relatives increased – thereby destabilising finances in the short and long terms.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects are the backdrop to growing concerns over changing fertility rates. Alarmism over fertility rates has historically led to a repeal of human rights. On World Population Day, Maternal Health Matters urges against reactionary policy responses if they violate rights, health and choices. Maternal Health Matters joins with the United Nations in emphasising that “women must be empowered educationally, economically and politically to exercise choice over their bodies and fertility”. This is respectful maternity care and is a fundamental human right.