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Protecting Women and Families from the War on Drugs: UN Sessions

UN leaders and civil society organizations will gather at the UN in New York City this month for the 59th Annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). This year’s CSW will address progress made in the 20 years since the development of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which states that pregnancy “should not be a basis for discrimination nor restrict the full participation of women in society.” Next year, the 2016 UN Special Session of the General Assembly (UNGASS) will focus on reviewing the worldwide drug control system, with specific attention to rethinking and addressing the ineffective and dangerous global drug war.

With both these pivotal convenings in mind, National Advocates for Pregnant Women and Open Society are drawing special attention to the ways the war on drugs harms women. It is widely recognized that war and armed conflicts destabilize families, harm children, and have particularly harsh consequences for women because of their marginalized social status. The same is true of the drug war, but the analysis of the harm caused by the war on drugs, as well as potential policy solutions, remains focused on men’s experiences. 

Panelists will present research and case studies that demonstrate the gender-specific impact of the drug war, outline challenges and strategies for protecting and promoting the human rights of women and families, and call on women’s groups to join in efforts to reconsider the drug war in terms of its severe impacts on gender equality.


  • Ayesha Sen Choudhury is a program officer with the International Womens’ Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.
  • Juanita Díaz-Cotto is a human rights activist and professor of sociology, women’s studies, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at SUNY Binghamton.
  • Farah Diaz-Tello is a senior staff attorney with National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
  • Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch is director of the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program.

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