In his message for World Population Day, which was held on Sunday, the UN chief called for closing the gaps in access to sexual and reproductive health services that the crisis has created.
The pandemic “continues to rock our world, reaching one grim milestone after another,” Mr Guterres said.
Last week, the global death toll from COVID-19 officially surpassed four million.
“In addition to the millions of lives tragically lost, there is a less visible toll: a shocking rise in domestic violence as women were forced into isolation with their abusers; empty maternity wards because women postponed motherhood; and unintended pregnancies due to limited access to contraceptive services,” the secretary general said.
The UN estimates that the pandemic will push some 47 million women and girls into extreme poverty. In addition, many girls who are out of school now may never return to class.
“In every corner of the world, we are seeing a reversal of hard-won profits and an erosion of women’s reproductive rights, choices and agency. With the outbreak of the pandemic, resources for sexual and reproductive health services were diverted,” the secretary-general said.
“These gaps in access to health rights are unacceptable. Women cannot be alone in this struggle,” he added.
“As we celebrate World Population Day, let’s pledge to ensure the reproductive health rights of everyone, everywhere.”