Overcoming stigma and violence against incarcerated and drug using women

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Overcoming stigma and violence against incarcerated and drug using women

22 February 2021

Organised by Dianova International, the International Drug Policy Consortium, the Washington Office on Latin America and the Women and Harm Reduction International Network

24 March 2021 | 2:00 to 3:30 pm (New York time) | Online
Side event at the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Event in English | Spanish

Prior registration on the CSW platform is required to attend this event online

(Click here for a handy tutorial by Dianova International)

Women who use drugs, and women incarcerated and formerly incarcerated for drug offences, face high levels of stigma, discrimination and violence. They tend to face higher levels of stigma than men, as they are seen as defying their assigned roles in society as mothers and caregivers. Women who use drugs face daunting barriers in accessing harm reduction and treatment services, and gender-sensitive programmes remain an exception rather than the norm. As a result, they are at higher risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis C, especially while incarcerated. Formerly incarcerated women face significant obstacles in rebuilding their lives after incarceration. From the time of their arrest until their release, women’s – especially trans women’s – journey through the criminal justice system is marked by experiences of systemic violence, discriminations and trauma.

This side event will discuss some of the most pressing issues faced by women who use drugs and incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women, including with an account of lived experiences from women in the USA and Mexico.


  • Mary Chinery-Hesse, West Africa Commission on Drugs, IDPC representaitve in Ghana & Former Deputy-General of the International Labour Organisation - Opening remarks
  • Ruth Birgin, Women and Harm Reduction International Network
  • Gisela Hansen Rodríguez, Dianova International
  • Andrea James, National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
  • Kenya Cuevas, Casa de las Muñecas Tiresias A.C. & Casa Hogar “Paola Buenrostro”


  • Marie Nougier, International Drug Policy Consortium

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags: #EndTheStigmaCSW65 #EndTheViolenceCSW65 #EndTheStigma #EndTheViolence