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The COVID-19 pandemic constitutes the largest global public health crisis in a century, with daunting health and socioeconomic challenges. As the UN Secretary-General ' noted, this “is the greatest test that we have faced since the formation of the United Nations”. Governments are taking unprecedented measures to limit the spread of the virus, ramping up health systems and restricting the movement of millions. The pandemic has already severely disrupted access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services. It is worsening existing inequalities for women and girls, and deepening discrimination against other marginalized groups. Sexual and reproductive health and rights is a significant public health issue that demands urgent and sustained attention and investment.

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Companies need to make radical changes in their approaches to business during COVID-19 outbreak. Applying working from home policy is the primary goal to ensure health and protection of all employees in this period. It should be also kept in mind that the burden of domestic and care work affect women drastically and the employers need to make sure that the workers maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Moreover, supply chains undergo strains from the pandemic response which may further endanger the sexual and reproductive health of the employee. Private sector also should be aware of the specific needs of certain groups who are at high risk of coronavirus, primarily being elderly and those with chronic diseases.

UNFPA makes critical recommendations for those in various sectors, including hospitality, textile, logistics and many more, in terms of how private sector can make a difference for community during this period. 

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Contaceptive methods are one of the critical topics that are underestimated during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. With the emergence of COVID-19, serious industrial and financial challenges concerning the supply-chains started to occur. This situation severely restricts the people's accesibility to various kind of medications and medical products, primarily being contraceptives. It should not be ignored that people's sexual and reproductive health may become jeopardized in the long run, including all age groups, as a consequence of possible further damages to the supply-chain mechanism.

Other medications are also not immune to such a devastation, including antibiotic, antiviral drugs, medications that are prescribed during and after pregnancy for mothers' health. 

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Pandemics affect women and men differently. Women generate 70% of global healthcare workers. Although they are more likely to become the victims of systematic gender-based violence, they are underrepresented in the decision-making processes concerning the COVID19 pandemic, and they suffer from economic inequalities while struggling to ensure their financial independence.

On the other hand, men are less likely to ask for support and care due to gender roles, including physical and mental support, which makes them vulnerable to the ongoing crisis in a different way. Helplessness may lead to an increase in the cases of violence against women as well.

The only underprivileged community is not women, but also refugees, LGBTI+ individuals, homeless people and people with disabilities. Historical inequalities and forced social exlucion make things way more difficult for oppressed communities, especially during the ongoing coronavirus disease pandemic.

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Young people exposed to COVID-19 are as likely as old people to become infected and contagious. Young people’s education has been severely impacted by the pandemic that may hurt their mental health by producing negative feelings such as depression and anxiety in return, as a consequence of restricted socializing and loss of motivation for daily activities. Moreover, prolonged hours of social isolation is a risk-increasing factor for girls and adolescent women. COVID-19 also creates a troubling atmosphere in which accesability to sexual health services are severely restricted. 

On the other hand, this generation of young people is more connected through technology, media and the internet. In this time of social distancing and lockdowns, their efforts in terms of raising online awareness and making information available to masses play a critical role to fight against COVID19.

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Disease outbreaks affect women and men differently, and pandemics make existing inequalities for women and girls and discrimination of other marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities and those in extreme poverty, worse. This needs to be considered, given the different impacts surrounding detection and access to treatment for women and men.

Women represent 70 percent of the health and social sector workforce globally and special attention should be given to how their work environment may expose them to discrimination, as well as thinking about their sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial needs as frontline health workers.

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Pregnant women should take routine preventative actions to avoid infection with the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), UNFPA announced in a statement. These preventative measures, recommended in alignment with the World Health Organization (WHO), include diligent hand-washing, avoiding close contact with people exhibiting symptoms of infection, covering sneezes and coughs, and thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.

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The global reproductive rights movement that began in the 1960s transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of women, empowering them to govern their own bodies and shape their own futures. But despite the gains made over the past 50 years, since the establishment of  UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, the world still has a long way to go before rights and choices are claimed by all, according to the State of World Population 2019, released by UNFPA on 10 April 2019.

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In today’s world, gaps in wealth have grown shockingly wide. Billions of people linger at the bottom, denied their human rights and prospects for a better life. At the top, resources and privileges accrue at explosive rates, pushing the world ever further from the vision of equality embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
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"Gender-based Violence: UNFPA Prevention & Response" publication is developed from the results of mapping exercise of UNFPA engagement in Ending Gender-based Violence worldwide. 

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