Dianova Says: “Empower Women, Empower Society”

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Dianova launches the third phase of its “Human Empowerment” campaign and highlights the link between addiction and violence against women

Empower women, empower society

Women who are victims of violence and have an addiction problem are less likely to seek out and receive treatment due to their social isolation

“Empower women, empower society” is the closing motto of the short video that spearheads the third phase of Dianova’s Human Empowerment campaign.

Started on the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (26 June 2019), the campaign revives on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on the 26 November. Until Human Rights Day, on 10 December, the Dianova Network will emphasize the relationship between violence against women and substance use.

The campaign’s flagship video features a teenage girl who, because of negative experiences, gets lost in a spiral of addiction and violence. The video aims to highlight the specific problems faced by girls and women with substance use disorders, as well as the importance of their empowerment as a tool to put violence and stigma to and end.

The violence experienced by women in substance use settings (including sexual violence and/or intimate partner violence) is more a consequence of the patriarchal system than of substance use per se. However, the specific dynamics involved between substance use and gender violence should be addressed comprehensively.

In many instances, substance use and abuse settings engender relationships characterized by reduced control mechanisms and altered reaction capacity that may trigger the manifestations of a structural violence against women[1].

Women who are victims of partner violence may also consume (especially alcohol and anxiolytics) to numb or dissociate themselves as part of a strategy to help them cope with violence. . In fact, addiction represents, after depression, the most frequent condition amongst victims of violence.

The strong link between addiction and violence against women is also revealed beyond the intimate sphere. To find illicit psychotropic drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and others, women need to engage in environments where violence and sexual blackmail are pervasive “, adds Montse Rafel, Director General of Dianova.

Lastly, women who are victims of violence and have an addiction problem are less likely to seek out and receive treatment due to their social isolation.

For these reasons, the Dianova Network supports all necessary measures to protect women with substance use disorders and suffering violence, with an aim to improve the admission rates in addiction treatment centres and within police protection services and to intensify the treatment and monitoring services of perpetrators. Finally, Dianova advocates the mainstreaming of a gender perspective in the design and implementation of drug and alcohol policies, including programmes that offer a wide range of services adapted to the specificities of gender.


[1] Martinez, P (2019). Uso de drogas, adicciones y violencia desde una perspectiva de género. Infonova (35) 23-34.

A meta-analysis of 96 independent studies involving nearly 80,000 participants showed that the risk of aggression to an intimate partner triples in cases of abuse or dependence on alcohol or other drugs.