For gender-sensitive drug policies

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From drug cultivation to drug use – different realities require different political responses.

Influenced by pop culture and the news, when we think of drug economies we first, if not exclusively, think of men. But both men and women are engaged in the entire value chain: from the cultivation of illegal drug plants and their processing into illegal substances to drug trafficking and use. Their roles and experiences differ considerably. However, programmes for sustainable development of drug crop cultivation areas or addiction aid services are in many cases not tailored to the realities of women's lives. The GPDPD wants to change this on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and advocates for gender-sensitive drug policies.

Traditional gender-specific stereotypes and expectations can be a burden on women, who often face an even stronger stigma than men when they are active in the drug economy or use drugs themselves. At the same time, they are often excluded from processes and decisions that directly affect their lives, for example regarding their income or the land where they work. It is therefore necessary to design drug policies and the implementation of drug policy projects in a gender-sensitive manner. This means consistently keeping in mind the different life realities, interests and needs of women and men as well as gender-related inequalities and making them visible. The aim is to achieve long-term gender justice, i.e. to give all people the same chances and opportunities, regardless of their gender.

Women in drug economies are exposed to different risks than men.

GPDPD's engagement for greater gender sensitivity in drug policy

The Global Partnership on Drug Policies and Development (GPDPD) wants to ensure that gender equality does not remain a marginal issue. Above all, this means creating attention through greater gender sensitivity and opening up new perspectives in which the experiences of women and men in connection with drugs and drug economies are considered separately.


The GPDPD supports this by putting gender issues on the agenda in international drug policy forums. We make sure that the workshops, training courses or pilot projects in our partner countries are gender-sensitive. When we promote innovative research in the field of drug policy, we try to obtain gender-differentiated data and information in order to ensure that policies are as close to reality as possible.

What the GPDPD actually does for more gender-sensitivity.

  • The GPDPD has organised two international dialogue forums for female smallholder farmers. The women came from various Latin American and Asian countries where coca or opium poppy is cultivated. In a confidential setting, they exchanged views on the special conditions they encounter as women. The aim of this series is to obtain recommendations for the gender-sensitive design of Alternative Development measures. The publication "Raising Voices: Empowering female farmers in drug crop cultivation areas", whose contents we also present and discuss in international drug policy forums such as the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs  (CND), resulted from their first meeting.
  • In our earlier pilot projects in Colombia, half of the households participating in Alternative Development and forest conservation programmes were represented by women. These women were given the opportunity to contribute their views, receive information, build networks and participate in decision-making processes.
  • In 2018, we supported the drafting of a chapter for the UN World Drug Report, which focuses entirely on women and drugs. The report is published annually by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and is the most wide-ranging publication in the analysis of global trends in drugs worldwide. It is also one of the most important references for the development of national drug policies in many countries.