In October 2013 I participated in Women4GF TB Advocates meeting in Paris because I care about women who use drugs (WUD) equal access to health care, social services and their rights protection. I work at the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN), which was one of the early applicants for the Global Fund New Funding Model. WUD in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) face double stigma and discrimination and are often a hidden population, especially in countries of Central Asia. In most of those countries there is no data available about the number of women who use drugs and their enrollment in various treatment and prevention programs, this creates a false illusion that there are no or only few WUD. We know that there are many WUD who suffer human rights abuses and lack access to essential, lifesaving services. However, they prefer to stay silent because of the fear that their drug use will be discovered and they will be subject to open discrimination and stigmatization.
On March 8, 2014 EHRN launched the campaign Women Against Violence with the aim to empower WUD to combat police violence again them. The campaign is mobilising WUD and build their capacities to speak about their experiences of injustice and to build dialogues with decision makers in looking for solutions. People who use drugs, including WUD empowerment is also core of our regional Global Fund project “Harm Reduction Works – Fund It”. Within the project we build WUD capacities to advocate for accessible and appropriate harm reduction services which meet their needs. We believe that through letting WUD speak up and being heard is the way to move towards gender equality.