Iran, 24 August 2022 – With an estimated 2.8 million people suffering from a drug use problem, Iran also has one of the world’s highest prevalence of opiate use among its population. Women are among the affected – one household survey estimated that the lifetime prevalence of drug use among women aged 15-64 years was 1.5%.
Women in Iran who use drugs often face social stigma. Frequently equipped with fewer resources – like a job, independent income, or an educational background – women are often also responsible for dependent children or family members, making their struggles with substance use even more difficult. Cultural norms, meanwhile, make many women fearful of even acknowledging their problems.
Targeted and dedicated resources for women struggling with substance abuse are therefore crucial, which is why the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has supported the Kerman Women’s Empowerment Center. The Center provides treatment to women substance users, as well as job creation and social reintegration services, and to date have helped over 260 women to recover from drug addiction.
UNODC delivered bakery and confectionary items to the Center, who plans on using the equipment to create an ongoing, apprentice-like workshop teaching women how to bake. The aim is to provide recovered women drug users with a skill that can help them to obtain a job and income.
The venture is related to a similar initiative by UNODC Iran, whereby sewing machines will also be delivered to both the Kerman Center and Noor-e Sepid-e Hedayat, a civil society organization in Tehran. By teaching recovering women drug users to sew, just as with baking, UNODC Iran hopes to assist the organizations to help women find new livelihoods.