UNODC commemorates International Women’s Day by hosting a special briefing on women and the law, rural women and access to drug-related treatment and protection from gender-based violence


This special briefing, in observance of International Women’s Day on the 8th of March 2022, provided a briefing of a pilot project on Women in Conflict with the Law, and introduced and provided an overview of the Linking Rural Women Who Use Drugs (WWUD) to HIV Testing, Sexual Reproductive Health and Ongoing GBV support.

On November 30 2021, the Callas Foundation, in partnership with UNODC, launched a pilot project on non-custodial measures for women in conflict with the law (WICL) at Athlone, Western Cape, South Africa. The aim of the pilot project is to explore the intersection between gender-based violence (GBV) and WICL, also taking into consideration how GBV may escalate both women’s pathways to imprisonment and their social reintegration.

In her presentation, Caroline Peters (Director Callas Foundation) emphasized the dimensions of GBV and its intersections with women coming into contact with the law; and their social reintegration.  Out of the 80 plus cases identified for intervention and alternative sentencing or non-custodial measures, 28 survivor cases were chosen to participate in the project.

Stacey Doorly-Jones, (CEO of STAND), stated that the pilot project commissioned by the UNODC in 2021 sought to link women who use drugs (WWUD) from the remote region of the Cape Winelands to HIV testing & SRH Services.  The response was overwhelming, and the need was well recognized .

“Of particular concern across engagements was the reported high levels of GBV in the homes of vulnerable women and children in remote areas.”

“Jenny” and “Carrie”, beneficiaries of both projects, shared their lived experiences as WWUD and WICL. Jenny said “Our communities, really need these kinds of services, whereby we are not stigmatized, but seen as human beings and receive the necessary services.” A multi-sectoral panel discussion at the meeting, providing further insight on the findings and commitment from key stakeholders was encouraging.

Dr Linda Naidoo from UNODC-ROSAF, concluded by emphasizing that TRUE INNOVATION was seen by the two community-based organizations. She further cited that “the stories of the survivors are primary examples of how these organizations can prove impact, change, and transform the lives of the most vulnerable”. Gender-responsive transformation includes change in policies, institutions, and processes, that foster an anti-silo approach, inclusive of comprehensive interventions on economic strengthening,  that will foster sustainable livelihoods for survivors.