The Impact of Drug Policies on Women

The challenges of current drug policies have come at a significant cost to women. Punitive drug laws pose a heavy burden on women and, in turn, on the children for whom women are often the principal caregivers. Across the globe, women are the fastest growing population in jails and prisons. Women who use drugs are often subjected to disproportionate levels of gender-based violence, and many criminal networks that dominate drug markets in Latin America use violence against women to assert their control over communities. There is now an emerging body of research outlining a convincing case for gender-responsive drug policies that promote the health and rights of women, particularly those who are most marginalized.

The UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs scheduled for April 2016 is an opportunity to draw attention to the urgent need for gender-sensitive drug policy and programs, and to secure commitments from UN member states to do better. This panel explores the gender dimension of drug policy and law and provides recommendations for how the rights of women should be represented in these drug policy discussions.


  • Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi (opening remarks) is the permanent representative of Italy to the United Nations.
  • Emma Bonino is the former minister of foreign affairs for Italy.
  • Farah Diaz-Tello is senior staff attorney for the National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
  • Carolyn Eisert is a policy analyst and ACLS public fellow for the Law and Policy Programme at Amnesty International.
  • Luigi Marini is legal adviser for the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations.
  • Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch (moderator) is director of the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program.
Date: March 17, 2016
Time: 10:0011:30 a.m.

United Nations, 885 Second Avenue, One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 49th Floor, New York, NY 10017