Leadership support and empowerment of women who use drugs

In Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA) countries, women who use drugs (WUD) represent approximately 20% of all people who use drugs. Approximately 90% of WUD have experienced violence at the hand of their family members or the police.

In Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA) countries, women who use drugs (WUD) represent approximately 20% of all people who use drugs. Approximately 90% of WUD have experienced violence at the hand of their family members or the police. To mobilize these women, EHRN has signed a contract with 9 organizations from 5 countries after an open call to take part in the program  "Through Peers’ Efforts – 4". The program reached almost 500 women who use drugs, helped to identify 42 potential WUD leaders and 29 street lawyers. EHRN presents the report on the results on the implementation of the program.

Building the leadership and capacity of WUD in CEECA is one of the main priorities for the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network. Small Grants Program “Through Peers’ Efforts – 4”  was implemented In February – August 2016, with the financial support from the M·A·C AIDS Fund.

The goal of the program was to mobilize and create opportunities for WUD to help them participate in advocacy for their rights and build partnerships with law enforcement agencies at the national and local levels.

The program participants included community organizations and initiative groups of women who use drugs as well as female clients of OST programs and those working to protect health and rights of these women.

Over the past five years, EHRN has implemented and supported a number of initiatives focused on empowering WUD activists in the CEECA to defend their rights and respond to human rights violations. These initiatives have included the regional campaign “Women against Violence”, the Street Lawyers program, activist study tours to human rights and drug policy programs and forums, scholarships and small grants programs.

The idea of the Small Grants Program was born in the course of co-operation between EHRN and the leaders of the community of PWUD. The first wave of the Small Grants Program “Through Peers’ Effort – 1“ was implemented in 2013 with the financial support of the Robert Carr Foundation. To implement the second and third waves of the Small Grants Program ”Through Peers’ Effort” in 2014 – 2015, EHRN engaged a wider range of partners and donors. The report describes the results of the program’s fourth cycle. 

I have grown more assured of myself, more sober. I stopped using drugs and smoking. My self-esteem improved and I grew to like myself. I realized the purpose of motherhood and hope appeared again. My fear, uncertainty and disappointment are gone. I’m enjoying life. The project was an opportunity to develop and see potential in me and other people, the potential to live and work and help others like myself. That’s great! 

Valentina, program participant