Exploring intersections between gender and drug use in East and Southern Africa
The criminalisation of drug use and possession for personal use throughout East and Southern Africa has left people who use drugs largely vulnerable, marginalised and stigmatised. The situation is even worse for women who use drugs (WWUD), who continue to be ignored in research, policy, and services. People who use drugs already experience significant barriers to accessing services; however, WWUD face additional barriers, including gender inequality and gender-based violence. With men comprising of the majority of drug users globally, drug policies and harm reduction programmes have been designed for men. As a result, the plight of women who use drugs have gone unnoticed and they have become almost invisible. Over the years, anecdotal evidence has highlighted these issues, and NGOs have started to explore these issues through community-led research. However, there continues to be very little qualitative data and no quantitative data on women who use drugs in the region.