Gender, Drugs, and Criminal Justice: Navigating Human Rights Challenges

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2021. 8:00 A.M. EST

Join the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) and Penal Reform International (PRI) for a side event organized at the margins of the 30th United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice intersessional meeting:

The 10-year anniversary of the Bangkok Rules coincided with negotiations of the Kyoto Declaration, adopted at the 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in March 2021, which places a strong emphasis on protecting the rights of women within criminal legal systems, including provisions on detention conditions and on measures to address overcrowding in detention facilities with the use of alternatives to detention and custodial sentences.

Worldwide, over a third of incarcerated women are in prison for drug-related matters. This proportion rises to 50 and even 80 percent in several Latin American and Asian countries. Although more men are incarcerated for drug-related charges globally, available research in those two regions show the differentiated and disproportionate impacts of drug control on women. Drug policies mostly target women in situations of vulnerability: single mothers and caretakers, who generally have limited levels of formal education and access to employment in the legal economy; women with a history of violence, abuse and coercion; and women with drug dependence. Women involved in drug use and other drug-related matters also tend to face high levels of violence within the criminal legal system, are denied basic human rights such as access to legal aid, and are housed in overcrowded and often squalid facilities. Addressing the over-incarceration of women worldwide therefore requires urgent reforms of drug policies, in line with the UN System Common Positions on incarceration and on drug-related matters and the 2016 UNGASS Outcome Document.

This side event will explore the gendered impacts of drug control and the carceral system on women’s human rights, and offer some key recommendations for the way forward. 


Event Details:

Friday, November 12, 2021

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. EST

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. CET

Introductory Remarks:

Ambassador Luis Javier Campuzano Piña

Permanent Mission of Mexico
to the United Nations (Vienna)


Gloria Lai

Regional Director for Asia, IDPC

Miriam Estrada-Castillo

Vice-Chair, UN Working Group

on Arbitrary Detention

Triona Lenihan

Policy and International Advocacy Manager, PRI

Parina Subba Limbu

Director, Dristi Nepal


Coletta Youngers

Senior Fellow, WOLA