"With the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, we signed up to work together in a spirit of common and shared responsibility. Gender equality is a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world."

2 December 2016 - On the occasion of the opening of the 60th regular session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, a joint event was organised by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Commission on the Status of Women to showcase efforts undertaken by both functional Commissions of ECOSOC in support of the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, in particular SDG 5, achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.   

H.E. Ambassador Alicia Buenrostro Massieu, Permanent Representative of Mexico and First Vice-Chair, chaired the event on behalf of H.E. Ambassador Bente Angell-Hansen, Chair of the 60th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and Permanent Representative of Norway. In her opening remarks, Ambassador Buenrostro Massieu highlighted that gender equality was a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world, and that the implementation of SDG 5 would be crucial to progress across all Sustainable Development Goals and targets.

H.E. Ambassador Antonio De Aguiar Patriota, Chair of the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women, addressed the special event via video-conference. He commended the Commission on Narcotic Drugs for the attention devoted to women's needs, rights and its leadership in relation to the world drug problem. He highlighted that the Commission's implementation of the UNGASS outcome document as well as the adoption of resolution 59/5 Mainstreaming a gender perspective in drug-related policies and programmes in March 2016, was a strong reflection of its commitment to gender equality and provided an excellent framework for further integrating a gender perspective into the work of the CND. Mr. Andreas Glossner, Vice Chair from the Western European and Other Group of the 60th and 61st session of the CSW, thanked the Commission for being a "trendsetter" in fostering cooperation between the functional Commissions of the ECOSOC and underlined that he was looking forward to future cooperation between the Commissions.

"A truly balanced approach to international drug control efforts must also be a gender responsive" Ambassador Buenrostro Massieu stressed that in the UNGASS outcome document Member States devoted an entire chapter to cross-cutting issues, including women and drugs, thereby highlighting the need to ensure non-discriminatory access to health, care and social services in prevention, primary care and treatment programmes, underlining the importance of taking into account the specific needs and possible multiple vulnerabilities of women drug users, as well as encouraging the involvement of women in all stages of the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of drug policies.

"Gender equality is a central piece of the development puzzle" HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol of Thailand, UN Women Ambassador of Thailand, UNODC Goodwill Ambassador on the Rule of Law for Southeast Asia and former Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Vienna, addressed the meeting via video message. Her Royal Highness highlighted that all too often women involved with drugs suffered from stigmatization and discrimination and she called upon Member States and all relevant stakeholders to put forward gender-responsive drug policies that allow women to fully exercise their rights. Video Message of   HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol of Thailand

"A distinct feature of the 2030 Agenda is its universality with the agenda applying to all people in all countries, irrespective of their level of development and their level of wealth. As no country has achieved gender equality, the commitments in the 2030 Agenda are relevant in every part of the world"  Ms. Christine Brautigam, Director of the Intergovernmental Support Division of UN Women highlighted that while SDG5 was particularly significant, gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda required working across all SDGs. 

Mr. Aldo Lale-Demoz, Deputy Executive Director of UNODC touched upon gaps that needed to be addressed in order to progress in gender mainstreaming efforts, stressing that "unless the need for gender mainstreaming is understood and reflected throughout our work, unless we make sure that women and men, boys and girls benefit equally from what we do, our work will not be fully effective."  

The UNGASS outcome document reiterates the importance of taking into account the specific needs and possible multiple vulnerabilities of women drug offenders, in line with the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules). Aldo Lale-Demoz stressed that women often faced justice and prison systems that were neither designed nor able to meet their gender‐specific needs. He shared examples of UNODC's efforts to provide targeted assistance to support countries in implementing international standards and norms, including 'the Bangkok Rules", to improve the situation of women offenders and prisoners.  

Ms. Luciana Pol from the Centre of Legal and Social Studies (CELS) addressed the joint event on behalf of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs, and presented the work of the group on Alternatives to Incarceration for Women in Prison for Drug Offences. Ms. Pol presented a photo essay on women behind bars and discussed the global trend of growing incarceration of women.  

Strong support was voiced by all panelists and participants to continue the close cooperation between the functional Commissions - Ambassador Buenrostro Massieu concluded: "I hope that in the upcoming months we will continue reaching out to our brother and sister functional commissions. Each of our Commission has specific mandates and expertise, but together we are stronger and better equipped to address the cross-cutting challenges and support the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda."

Vienna, 2 December 2016


Mr. Aldo Lale-Demoz, Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Photos of the Event

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