1. What is gender and why it is necessary to incorporate a gender perspective in the drug field? Evolution of key theoretical concepts in the area of gender and trends influencing the drug field
This presentation has the objective to show the need to incorporate a gender perspective in the drug issue, by providing an overview of the theoretical evolution of the concepts of gender.
Gender studies have evolved from a first phase (late 19th century) with no distinction between sex and gender and biological determining differences in behaviours and social hierarchies; to a second phase (1960/70) when sex, relating to biology, and gender, relating to culture/social roles became distinct; to a third phase (1980/90) with the introduction of a non-binary vision of biological sex and the centrality of gender agency and performativity. Based on these developments, the following issues should be highlighted:
- gender is a social dimension and biology does not determine behaviours;
- a binary vision of sex should be overcome;
- new intersecting categories (e.g., race, social class) should be considered in addition to gender;
- although small, biological differences between masculine-feminine must be considered and a gender 'neutral' perspective abandoned;
- the relationship between social and biological should be subject of in-depth studies.
Drug policy should incorporate a gender perspective in the drug issue, by understanding:
- the complex link between biology and social processes;
- the different life trajectories between men and women in a gender unequal society;
- the influence of the different gender norms in drug use behaviours;
- the role of specific gender factors (e.g., gender based violence) in the development of drug addiction.