COVID-19: latest news and resources on child marriage and COVID-19

Resources to help during COVID-19: Sexual and reproductive health and rights

Girl takes part in a workshop with Garífuna and Indigenous children and adolescents in Livingston, Guatemala. Photo by Priscilla Mora Flores/Colectivo Nómada/Girls Not Brides

Reduced access to SRH care during the pandemic – including contraception, STI testing and treatment, and safe abortion – will have severe consequences for adolescent girls and women. One such consequence is an increase in the number of unintended adolescent pregnancies, which in turn could increase pressure on girls to marry early.

We know that girls and women – particularly amongst the poorest and socially marginalised groups – will likely be most affected by the pandemic. We need to work together as a partnership to make sure that girls at risk of child marriage and married girls don’t get left behind.

That’s why we’re compiling regular roundups of resources that may be useful to Girls Not Brides member organisations at this difficult time. These are linked in this series of blogs, and can also be found in our Resource Centre.

This week, we focus on COVID-19 and its impact on sexual and reproductive health and rights. The crisis has already affected the delivery of sexual and reproductive health services (SRH), and civil society organisations have called on governments to recognise that these services are essential at this time. Access to SRH services may be affected by disruptions in supply chains and restrictions to freedom of movement. This may prevent service delivery and obstruct girls’ access to the services that are available, with life-altering consequences.

RESOURCES

COVID-19: A gender lens: Protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights, and promoting gender equality, UNFPA

This technical brief outlines how the outbreak affects women and men differently. It highlights the importance of maintaining access to SRH services throughout the crisis, and provides gender-sensitive recommendations for protecting SRH and rights. Available in eight languages.

IMAP statement on COVID-19 and sexual and reproductive health and rights, IPPF

This statement outlines the implications of the crisis for the SRH sector, and lays out the measures needed to mitigate against them. It suggests that SRH services should be an integral part of any response to the crisis, and that they should either be sustained or provided through innovative approaches such as digital health, self‑care and community‑based services. Available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

Our response to the COVID-19 crisis, Marie Stopes International

MSI calls on governments to recognise contraception and safe abortion as essential services in times of crisis. They urge governments to reduce barriers by allowing women to access safe abortion and contraception remotely via telemedicine, allowing pharmacies to provide services, and removing unnecessary waiting times and the need for multiple doctor sign-offs. Their stories from the frontline share the challenges that MSI programme staff are currently experiencing on the ground in different regions.

Technical note on COVID-19 and harmful practices, UNICEF

This technical brief builds on learnings from the Ebola crisis and the impact it had on female genital mutilation (FGM) and chid marriage. It includes recommendations for programmatic responses at the policy, systems, community and individual levels, and in terms of evidence and dada.

Rights in the time of COVID-19, UNAIDS

This article shares lessons learned from the AIDS crisis that could be applied to the current COVID-19 pandemic. It makes seven key recommendations for managing the current crisis, including engaging communities from the start, combatting all forms of discrimination, supporting health workers, and ensuring countries work together to share information and find common solutions. Available in English and Arabic.