Key findings

Only two countries across the region report any specific service designed for women who use drugs (India, Myanmar), and these are not nationwide programmes.
The top 3 barriers to service access across the region are gender based violence (GBV), criminalization of drug use and a general lack of harm reduction services.
Lack of meaningful involvement for female staff/peer workers.

Background

In their Global State of Harm Reduction: 2019 updates, HRI note that the spread of harm reduction services is still stalling globally in continuation of a trend observed since 2012. The 2018 Global State of Harm Reduction 2018 briefing, highlights that although women are estimated to account for one third people who use drugs globally and are consistently reported to have less access to harm reduction services and to be at higher risk of HIV and hepatitis C infection, robust data on this subject is scarce, and research on drug use and related health issues rarely produces information about women. While tools exist to enable harm reduction services to institute a gender lens and gender mainstreaming in their programmimg in order to improve relevance and reach to women who use drugs, services that have introduced such approaches are thin on the ground. Where they do exist, there is not necessarily scope to document and promote experience. In order to leverage greater accountability from governments that have endorsed UN guidelines and resolutions around the provision of services for women who use drugs, it is important to document and promote such services where they do exist. With this, models can be replicated, resourced and established at other harm reduction programmes, while pressure builds to reverse the stalling of actions that improve respectful access to health for women who use drugs. With this in mind, WHRIN undertook a survey, in order to attempt a ‘mapping’ of women friendly services around the world.