UN75—Women Who Grow Coca and Opium: COVID-19 and Gender-Sensitive Drug Policies in Rural Areas
Women living in rural communities face severe social and economic challenges due to gender-based stereotypes and discrimination that ban them from equitable access to opportunities, resources, and services. Women working with illicit crops face the added stigma associated with these activities, and the COVID-19 outbreak and quarantine measures have consequently had a disproportionate effect on this population. Quarantine has led to the inability of these women to sell their products, including coca leaf, and not all families have access to food supplies to survive isolation. Certain areas have also seen an increase in violence perpetrated by the state and illegal armed groups (e.g., forced eradication campaigns of crops and illegal armed groups acting as health authorities).
Through the video testimony of three women who live in coca and opium poppy growing regions in Asia and Latin America, this panel explored the role that women growers play in their communities, the importance of their leadership—particularly during the pandemic—the ramification of forced eradication campaigns of crops, and the need for sustainable gender-sensitive drug policies and programs, especially in rural areas.
This event was part of UN75 Dialogues, an initiative to spark conversations on priorities for the future, obstacles to achieving them, and the role of international cooperation in making progress.
Ihsanullah Ghafoori is a research officer with Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit.
Kathryn Ledebur is executive director of Andean Information Network.
Mariana López is a project officer with EQUIS Justicia para las Mujeres.
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