Drug Alcohol Women Network: Promoting a gender responsive approach to drug use
United Nations Day

Rome, 22 October 2013. On the occasion of the United Nations Day, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), in collaboration with the Department for Antidrug Policy of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of the Government of Italy (DPA) has organized a meeting to address a gender responsive approach to drug addiction.

The purpose of the meeting, which will be held from 2:30 to 5pm at Palazzo Chigi, is to raise awareness of interventions related to prevention and treatment of drug addiction that take gender differences into account. The debate will focus on the research carried out by UNICRI and on the DAD.NET (Drugs and Alcohol Women Network) project of the Department for Antidrug Policy and a publication that, through its collection of contributions from experts, specialized agencies and governmental organizations, aims to present different views and perspectives on what characterizes female addiction in comparison to male addiction and its peculiarities.

The publication, consisting in a good practices manual, is one of the activities UNICRI has developed within the framework the DAD.NET. The project is aimed at establishing a network of experts who can advocate and assist in the development and implementation of evidence-based interventions, policies and best practices tailored to the needs of women.

The importance of mainstreaming gender within professional and policy practice is recognized by the United Nations as an essential and powerful tool at the root of all development efforts. In this context, the achievement of gender equality is considered as part of a global approach and is applied in every field of the political and social development agenda. Project DAWN follows the “mainstreaming approach”. According to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, "Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels.

A cornerstone in the pursuit of gender responsive addiction policies and programmes is the Commission on Narcotic Drugs resolution 55/5: “Promoting strategies and measures addressing specific needs of women in the context of complete and integrated drug demand reduction programmes and strategies”. The resolution calls on governments to recognize the unique needs of women and girls when designing and implementing drug policies, inviting them “to consider incorporating female-oriented programmes in their drug policies and strategies” and encouraging them “to integrate essential female-specific services in the overall design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes addressing drug abuse and dependence” (ECOSOC, 2012).

In its resolution the Commission on Narcotic Drugs called on the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) to continue assisting and supporting Member States in developing and adapting measures and strategies addressing the specific needs of women as an essential element of more effective, just and human rights-based policies.

The meeting, moderated by Marida Lombardo Pijola, a journalist from Il Messaggero, will be attended by Giovanni Serpelloni, Head of the Department of Antidrug Policy who will illustrate international strategies and disclose some epidemiological data on drug use from the perspective of a gender oriented approach.

The DAD.NET. project will be presented by the Director of International Relations of the DPA and Rapporteur for the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe,  Elisabetta Simeoni.

Elizabeth G. Verville, President of the Board of Trustees of UNICRI will give a speech on the importance of bilateral cooperation and partnership between UNICRI and the Department of Antidrug Policy of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

The meeting will be attended by Jonathan Lucas, the Director of UNICRI and Fabio Graziosi, UNRIC Desk Officer responsible for Italy, Malta, the Holy See and the Republic of San Marino, who will read the message from Secretary -General Ban Ki -moon on the United Nations Day.

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