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WADPN’s 2023 International Women’s Day Solidarity Message

Today, the West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN) stands in solidarity with the United Nations, women's rights activists, and all women worldwide, commemorating the 2023 International Women's Day (IWD) 2023.


This year's theme deals with "inclusive and transformative technology and digital education". This will be partly observed by recognising and honouring women who have made remarkable contributions to the field of technology.


However, as we commemorate this day, we must ensure that no woman is left behind.


We must remember and not forget the tens of thousands of women who have the skills or potential to make similar contributions or at least benefit from the development of transformative technology and digital education but are unable to do so because they are either awaiting trials, serving time in prison for minor, nonviolent drug-related offences, or trapped in marginalised drug-affected communities somewhere in the world.


Women who use drugs are among the most vulnerable and marginalised demographics of women worldwide. Evidence shows that they face unique and multiple challenges compared to other women. This is worsened by the nongender-responsive war on drugs regime, which imposes harsh criminal punishments - long-term mandatory custodial sentences - for relatively less serious drug offences, thereby depriving them of the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to society.


We cannot afford to continue neglecting this group of women and ignoring the evidence that punitive drug control regimes disproportionately affect women, which hinders their rights and empowerment efforts.


We see this year's IWD as a great opportunity for women who use drugs to be part of the discussion and decision-making in addressing the need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education for all.


We, therefore, urge the United Nations and its partners to make provision for the representation and full participation of women who use drugs in this and future IWD commemorations.


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