21 June 2018
Category : Interview
“New policies contribute to improving the lives of women”
Teresa Salvador-Llivina has been the director of the COPOLAD programme since its first phase in 2011. The second phase of the drug policy programme, which focuses its annual conference on the gender approach, is currently being implementedTeresa Salvador at the 3rd annual conference of the COPOLAD programme
How do you value cooperation in drug policies within the framework of the COPOLAD programme?
The broad coverage of the programme in the 33 countries of the CELAC, has presented a significant number of opportunities for cooperation between the European region and Latin America, covering all drug-related policies. COPOLAD is the first European cooperation programme to do this. While the previous programmes focused on the sector and mainly on reducing the supply of drugs, COPOLAD is based on all the aspects included in the European Union’s 2013-2020 Drug Strategy and its 2017-2020 Action Plan.
That is, we have the opportunity to support the development of balanced, evidence-based policies. We can offer practical support aimed at concepts that have recently emerged in CELAC countries. This programme is truly a public health policy and we can disseminate very positive results.
In all these tasks, we receive key contributions from multilateral agencies, such as the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD-OAS) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) as well as bi-regional NGO networks (RIOD and IDPC).
COPOLAD promotes the inclusion of a gender approach into drug policies. How do you see this progress and what are the main challenges?
From its first phase, COPOLAD has always been a programme committed to the inclusion of the gender approach. In fact, we devoted the annual conference of 2013 in Quito, Ecuador, to the gender approach. This conference was a first opportunity to review the situation relating to key aspects in this field. As a result of the conference, a report on the situation in the participating countries was published in 2014.
Since then, some progress has been made in the theoretical recognition of the need to incorporate this approach in all areas of drug policy. COPOLAD is now assessing that progress through a new report.
The third COPOLAD annual conference is also devoted to women and drug policies. What are the problems facing the institutions involved?
Firstly, the institutions responsible for developing these policies must ensure that the measures are based on evidence. Different types of quantitative and qualitative research must be supported to guide effective interventions that are sensitive to women’s needs and priorities.
Secondly, adequate planning is required to ensure that changes are implemented in the field. Alongside this, institutions have to offer training opportunities to ensure the development of the measures included in national strategies and action plans. These include, prevention with a gender perspective, programmes to reduce damage, measures for social inclusion and reforms in the area of justice regarding drug-related crimes committed by women
Finally, policy changes must be accompanied by appropriate budget allocations for the implementation of certain measures and services.
How can the gender perspective and the empowerment of women improve the effectiveness of drug policies? What needs should be addressed?
The drugs-related problems that women face are complex and affect different social groups. Not only those in vulnerable situations, but women of all ages and conditions. This complexity requires a comprehensive approach, and no policy will be complete, balanced, holistic and effective if it fails to take into account the risk factors that affect women and men differently,
What do you think are the best practices on gender approach in Europe, Latin America and in general?
Some promising examples from the EU and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have been presented at this conference. Some include the evaluation of benefits derived from changes in public policies, developed programmes or new services.
I would highlight the slow but significant progress made over the last five years. At this conference, some positive data on how the new policies are contributing to improving the lives of women are encouraging. In addition to the increase in sector programmes and initiatives undertaken by the countries and multilateral institutions present.
How do you see the role of civil society in facilitating the perception of the need for a gender approach in drug policies?
For COPOLAD, according to the EU Action Plan 2017-2018, a constant dialogue must be ensured between the regional and international networks working in the field of drugs, involving civil society in the implementation and evaluation of the action plans as well as in bi-regional dialogues and cooperation programmes such as COPOLAD.
Therefore, we have a bi-regional network (RIOD) and an international one with non-governmental organisations, such as collaborating agencies. Through these, we try to support the increase in participation by civil society in each participating country
What should the focus of future initiatives regarding gender issues be?
The availability of data necessary to differentiate the specificities of drug-related problems between women and men remains limited, as is the evidence of the effectiveness of the responses made. In this context, the consideration of the gender perspective and the empowerment of women as a key element in drug policies continues to be a challenge that must be faced in practice and across the issues involved.
Therefore, research, evaluation of progress, allocation of necessary resources, training programmes and policy changes to ensure respect for women’s rights will improve their social, family, personal and health conditions. This requires a multi-sector approach capable of addressing the main challenges, ensuring coordination among agencies in which the public sector and non-governmental initiatives – led by civil society – ensure the implementation of strategies and programmes focused on equity, and provide services adapted to the individual needs of each girl and woman in our countries.
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