About UNGASS 2016
In 1961, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs called drug dependency "a serious evil for the individual" and a "social and economic danger to mankind." These words reflected the century-old philosophy of global drug control: that prohibition of drugs and and punishment of those who used illicit substances would "protect the health and welfare" of the world's citizens.
More than 50 years later, in April 2016, a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) is focusing on the world drug problem. And its member nations must acknowledge it's time to change course.
The UNGASS 2016 Women's Declaration calls for global leadership to consider the disparate impact of the war of drugs on women, children, and families. The global war on drugs has not made the world safer, healthier, or more equitably prosperous. Indeed, the costs of making a "drug-free world" only continue to mount — especially for women, children and families. Around the world, the number of women incarcerated for drug offenses have skyrocketed. In too many countries, drug use while pregnant can lead to losing custody of one's children and harmful family separation. Drug-related violence — and state efforts to control it — have destabilized civil society and increased gender-based violence. Efforts to stem the drug trade have literally fueled the fires of environmental degradation and demolished families' livelihoods, as countries have burned coca plants and poppy fields from South America to South Asia.
We call the United Nations and its member states to lead the way in developing drug policy for a new age — policy that understands the different price women pay in this war, that puts families and health care before punishment, and observes the human rights of all.
National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) seeks to protect the rights and human dignity of all women, particularly pregnant and parenting women and those who are most vulnerable to government control and punishment including low income women, women of color, and drug-using women. NAPW uses the lessons learned from the experiences of these women to find more effective ways of advancing reproductive and human rights for all women and families. NAPW is actively involved in ongoing court challenges to punitive reproductive health and drug policies and provides litigation support in cases across the country. NAPW engages in local and national organizing and public education efforts among the diverse communities that are stakeholders in these issues, including the women and families directly affected by punitive policies, as well as public health and policy leaders. Learn more about NAPW
About This Photo
A woman works an opium crop in Madhya Pradesh, India. In India, opium cultivation is strictly regulated. It is allowed only in a few states and for medicinal purposes. (Credit Image: © SANJEEV GUPTA/epa/Corbis)