Worldwide, women who use drugs are vastly underserved within health and social services and programmes. National and international research, services, guidelines, and training programmes are either gender-neutral or male-focused. As harm reduction services are primarily tailored to men, women who use drugs often find their specific needs being unacknowledged and unaddressed, leading to non gender-responsive harm reduction services.
The On the A-Gender: Community Monitoring Tool for Gender-Responsive Harm Reduction Services for Women who use Drugs aims to be a resource for community advocates to begin documenting, evidencing, and addressing this state of play. By doing so, community advocates can begin to identify areas and locales where gender-responsive services are severely lacking or identify services and programmes that can provide examples of good practice and be scaled up. The tool acknowledges the diversity and intersectionality of women who use drugs — including sex workers, lesbian and transwomen.
This tool has been developed by the International Network of People who use Drugs (INPUD) and the International Network of Women who use Drugs (INWUD), in collaboration with the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) HIV/AIDS Section and Koalisi Satu Hati , a community advocacy group in Indonesia. It is based on the Policy Brief: Women who inject Drugs: Addressing Specific Needs (UNODC, UNWomen, WHO, INPUD, 2014) and its companion guidelines Addressing the specific needs of women who inject drugs: Practical guide for service providers on gender-responsive HIV services (UNODC, INPUD, 2016).
We hope this resource can be a useful and a practical first step towards developing advocacy strategies to introduce and scale up gender-responsive harm reduction services in various settings around the world. In this way, the right to health of women who use drugs can be respected and better promoted.