Dianova Participates in the ‘Geneva Drug Policy Week’

Dianova emphasized the importance of the relationship between drugs, gender and stigma at the Geneva Drug Policy Week

Dianova at the Geneva Drug Policy Week

Members of the Dianova team in Geneva with two representatives of the event’s organizing team: Jennifer Hasselgard-Rowe (left) and Sara Goh

The Geneva Drug Policy Week took place between the 24th and 28th of June and brought together local and international actors involved in drug policy around fifteen events across town, all of them free and open to the general public. Many different topics were addressed, including conflicts, access to medicines, gender, health and human rights. The event was organized by the Geneva Platform on Human Rights, Health and Psychoactive Substances, co-hosted by the GREA (Addiction Study Group of Suisse Romande) and the Institute of Global Health of the University of Geneva.

The event featured over 15 conferences, round tables, debates, visits to specialized institutions, and a film screening, in addition to the Summer School’s classes on this topic.

Dianova's eventDrugs, gender and stigma

Dianova participated in the event “Drugs, gender and stigma” that took place on the 25th of June from 12:30 to 14:00 at the University of Geneva, attended by some thirty people. View event’s flyer

Tenu Avafia, head of the team on Human Rights, key populations and access to treatment of the United Nations Development Program was the first to take the floor. Tenu’s intervention focused, among other issues, on the relationships between current drug policies and: development, HIV infection among vulnerable populations, and the excessive sentencing practices for women who commit nonviolent, drug-related crimes. In addition, Tenu emphasized the need for better access to treatment services and to provide alternatives to incarceration for drug-related crimes.

Later on, Claire Somerville, executive director of the Gender Center, of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies provided a more conceptual view highlighting the need to include intersectional analysis in drug policies and the need to look at the phenomenon from a health perspective. She also brought up the issue of sexual identity, which is closely associated with stigma. On the positive side, Claire mentioned the enormous progress that has been made in combating the stigma associated with people living with HIV/AIDS, especially in the health sector.

Gisela Hansen explored the various barriers to accessing and completing treatment programmes, an issue strongly associated to the double stigma women have to face (as drug users and as women), and how we can overcome these barriers.

Moderator Jennifer Hasselgard-Rowe, executive coordinator of the Geneva Platform on Human Rights, Health and Psychoactive Substances, handled the various questions that followed and led the interesting debate that took place at the end of the event.

Beyond this event, the representatives of Dianova participated in several of the Geneva Drug Policy Week’s activities, including a visit to a drug consumption room run by the organization Première Ligne, and to the innovative programme of medicinal heroin prescription implemented by the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG).

Drug consumption room

Drug consumption rooms reduce high-risk injecting behaviour in a safe and non-judgmental environment – photo: Dianova, license, CC

Another interesting event was the round table entitled “Between security, health and sustainable development objectives: which marijuana policy is coherent?” which featured interesting and different viewpoints.

On behalf of Dianova, we’d like to congratulate the organizers of the Geneva Drug Policy Week, for bringing these topics closer to the general public and the university community, for the proper organization and conduct of the event, the diversified and quite complete programme of events, and lastly, for their invitation.

Dianova's team in Geneva

Dianova’s team in Geneva, from left: Lucía Goberna, Montse Rafel, Xavier Pons, Gisela Hansen and Federica Bertacchini – photo: Dianova, license CC