16 April 2018 - With poverty and insufficient labour market access often a driving force behind female imprisonment, it is crucial that inmates are provided with viable employment training opportunities post-release. In Bolivia, the situation is much the same as in many other countries, with a vast number of female inmates convicted for minor offences - many of whom are single mothers and therefore face additional pressure to secure resources by whatever means necessary, frequently leading them to commit non-violent offences such as petty theft.
Against this backdrop, UNODC has signed a new technical assistance project around vocational training with the Bolivian Prison Administration - part of the Office's ongoing work under the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration. The initiative, 'Building Freedom', will train some 50 female prisoners in the field of construction as well as look to strengthen their rights, self-esteem, entrepreneurial skills and decision-making capacities. Ensuring the successful and sustainable reintegration of female prison inmates, the work will help reduce the rate of recidivism among this particularly vulnerable group.
The project also offers a crucial shift in the types of rehabilitation programmes being offered: typically, training has been designed based on gender stereotypes, with male prisoners receiving skills in more profitable areas, such as accounting and mechanics, and females in less lucrative parts, such as the production of handicrafts.
To counter this, the project seeks to bolster the prison service's capacity to offer more useful and innovative initiatives to female prisoners, equipping them with skills in construction and related technical fields, which are predicted to be among those highest in demand in the upcoming years according to national reports on market opportunities. The series of rehabilitation programmes which will come out of this will focus on female facilities in the prisons of Obrajes and Miraflores.
Of equal importance will be the development of effective post-penitentiary mechanisms to ensure adequate follow-up and successful reintegration of females into society upon release. This includes creating and disseminating a compilation of guidelines addressed at former female prisoners, as well as awareness-raising activities aimed at educating women on their rights, preventing discrimination and assisting them in finding employment with the support of a specialized non-governmental organization. In the same vein, prison staff are to receive training on international standards, best practices and lessons learned relating to the implementation of prisoner rehabilitation programmes in alignment with key United Nations tools and guidelines.
UNODC's Roadmap for the Development of Prison-based Rehabilitation Programmes: English
UNODC's Roadmap for the Development of Prison-based Rehabilitation Programmes: Spanish
Assessing compliance with the Nelson Mandela Rules: A checklist for internal inspection mechanisms
Introductory Handbook on the Prevention of Recidivism and the Social Reintegration of Offenders
United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules)