World Population Day 2020: Emphasis on health, rights of women and girls

Updated: Jul 11, 2020, 16:27 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

World Population day was introduced in 1989 by the recommendation of the United Nations Development Programme

This picture has been used for representational purposes. Picture/AFP
This picture has been used for representational purposes. Picture/AFP

July 11 is celebrated at World Population Day. The day is observed to understand and spread awareness about the social and economic challenges faced in the world due to the rising population. With the COVID-19 outbreak affecting millions across the globe, a factor of public health also has been included in these challenges this year.

World Population day was introduced in 1989 by the recommendation of the United Nations Development Programme. It was inspired by the public awareness created during the Five Billion Day on July 11, 1987, when the population of the world reached five billion.

This year, the United Nations said, "Human Rights Can’t Be Quarantined," as it works on the issues of the global population amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"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 a statement ahead of the occasion.

"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," Guterres added.

The theme of World Population Day 2020

The theme for World Population Day 2020 focuses on safeguarding the health and rights of women and girls amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With issues such as reproductive health, mental health, and family planning taking the backseat due to the pandemic, UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem has emphasised that they are also of vital importance. "In times of crisis, protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights is imperative," Dr Kanem wrote on Twitter ahead of the occasion.

Tackling COVID-19 and population issues

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people of all sections of society. But the lockdown imposed by the government to contain the spread of the virus prompting the closure of community-based services has made some people more vulnerable to violence. India’s National Commission for Women has reported huge number of domestic violence cases in the country during the lockdown. The lockdown had also made it difficult for pregnant women to reach hospitals for their deliveries.

The lockdown has also impacted the mental health of people of all sections of the society in India. It has not been easy for people to stay in isolation and maintain no physical contact with others for an extended period of time. Pay cuts and job loss have also added to the despair.

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