UNODC marks the International Women's Day and takes stock of its Gender Strategy

Since March 2018, when the first Global Strategy for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment was adopted by UNODC, a lot of progress has been noted in the region, notably through the creation of a working group dedicated to gender issues within the Regional Office. The group met several times and agreed on objectives mainly related to the promotion of gender equality in projects implemented in the region. On March 8, 2019, celebrating International Women's Day also allows UNODC to reflect on the strategy adopted in the region and the results achieved and yet to come.

First, in 2018, UNODC promoted examples of women in the justice and law enforcement sectors through its projects and various communications. For example, as part of an international judicial cooperation project, UNODC deployed a prosecutor from Nigeria to Italy in February 2018, and a female prosecutor was selected. This example, among others, shows that UNODC is not only encouraging the appointment of women participants to its training workshops, but also wishes to instill a wind of change in mentalities and to highlight the importance of women in the justice and secuirty sectors by setting an example. Moreover, in Dakar, 57% of women work in the UNODC Regional Office, working in key positions.

In addition, UNODC has undertaken numerous projects jointly with UN-Women. The first, with UN-Women and OHCHR, began in 2018 in Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone and aims improve legal aid for women. This project is currently being implemented and contributes to SDGs 5 and 16 of the 2030 Agenda. Besides that, the Sahel Programme is also preparing the launch of a joint project with UN-Women on the Mali / Niger border that will bring to the fore women as change makers in rebuilding trust between communities and security forces.

     
Mobile Unit trainings delivered in November 2018, in Banjul,The Gambia
 Trainings on trafficking in persons delivered by a UNODC trainer in Togo, in 2018

Overall, gender mainstreaming in UNODC activities has become progressively systematic, both for projects related to direct assistance to beneficiaries (drug users and victims of trafficking) and for projects related to criminal response in terrorism cases and to law enforcement officers. In Niger, for example, UNODC organized a sensitization workshop on the gender dimension of the criminal justice response to terrorism and specialized training for investigators, prosecutors and judges in June 2018.

It should also be noted that the year 2018 was marked by the inclusion of the gender component in the flagship documents produced by UNODC. First, in June 2018, the World Drug report took into account women and young people for the first time, and this was emphasized, in particular, during the press conference of Mr Pierre Lapaque in Dakar. At the regional level, the Mid-term Report issued in November 2018 included an important gender component (page 19) and highlighted the contribution of UNODC's activities towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 5.

   
UNODC and UN Volunteers Programme participated to a social media campaign in 2019
                               Group picture of female staff at UNODC in Dakar, taken in 2018

In addition, the establishment of the working group has also enabled UNODC to share best practices internally and to build on those of the Container Control Programme (CCP) in particular. This comprehensive programme is advanced on gender and has its own network of women globally. Following the CCP model, the AIRCOP project has developed gender modules in Joint Airport Task Forces trainings and has constantly continued its efforts to promote gender equality in law enforcement agencies.

Finally, advocacy within the Regional Office has been successful and has led to the regional ownership of gender and SDG 5 on gender equality by UNODC. This is reflected in the development of projects with a larger gender component as well as reports with more accurate figures and more in line communications with SDG 5.

For more information:

UNODC Encourages Women Empowerment in West Africa

Protection of victims and prosecution of traffickers: Justice served in Mali

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UNODC Global Strategy for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment