Addictions: Responding to women’s needs

United Nations: Dianova advocates the adoption of a gender perspective in policies that deal with addiction treatment and prevention

csw 60

Dianova made further progress in its political advocacy activities when it organised a parallel event at the Sixtieth Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60 – United Nations) in New York. Under the title “Women, Drugs and Development”, the event sought to highlight the need to adopt a gender perspective in policies that deal with the treatment and prevention of addictions.

With the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs, UNGASS, taking place in April 2016, this is an especially important year with regard to drug policies, and the staging of the event has opened up a debate at every level. Dianova, along with many other non-governmental organisations, has made a particularly active contribution to the preparatory process for UNGASS.

Dianova’s event took place on 22 March with presentations made by various actors involved in the field. The presentations dealt with different aspects of the relationship that exists between women, drugs and development, and they ranged from a profile of women’s drug use and access to treatment to the need for greater research and women’s involvement in illegal drug trafficking.

Representing Dianova International, Lucía Goberna welcomed the participants before going on to frame the event and topic of discussion by setting out the relationship between the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, UNGASS and the needs of women who either misuse drugs or find themselves involved in criminal proceedings related to drug offences. She also discussed the work of the Dianova network in the field of addiction treatment for women.

Yu Ping Chan, from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in New York, gave a presentation on what was new in the preparatory process for UNGASS. She also presented a profile of women drug users and discussed the needs that should be taken into consideration when drawing up drug policies.

Next, Ms Pervin Tuba Durgut, from the Turkish NGO Yeşilay / Turkish Green Crescent Society, presented a talk on the situation in her country regarding drug use and women’s access to addiction treatment. One conclusion she reached was that it is important to have gender-specific data on drug use and addiction treatment.

Cynthia Abrams

The third speaker was Cynthia Abrams, an expert in healthcare and addictions, and a member of the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church. Cynthia focused on the important role played by religious communities in providing environments that favour addiction treatment. And, for the first time, she presented The United Methodist Church’s position with regard to UNGASS.

The event also featured a video presentation from Cindy Smith, director of UNICRI, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute. She discussed the work UNICRI does with respect to gender issues, especially regarding the violence suffered by women.

Lastly, Fay Watson, from EURAD (Europe Against Drugs), gave a video presentation on women’s involvement in illegal drug-trafficking and alternative development.

The event was co-sponsored by the following NGOs: Kethea, Proyecto Hombre, RUN, San Patrignano and WFAD.

By organising events such as this, Dianova strengthens its ability to advocate for the inclusion of a gender perspective in drug policies. Lastly, it should be noted that Dianova sent CSW60 a written declaration containing a series of recommendations on the issue of “Women, Drugs and Development”.