Mainline works with the Middle East and North Africa Harm Reduction Association (MENAHRA) to improve the position of women who use drugs (WWUD). We designed a manual for local organisations in the MENA region. The aim of this manual is to provide practical guidelines to advocate for harm reduction services for women.

Who is the manual for?

The manual aims to be of practical help to anyone, regardless of their experience level, who wants to advocate for the needs of WWUD within a harm reduction framework. You can be working as a professional within a governmental- or non-governmental organisation or be a journalist, working in health care, be a woman who uses drugs yourself or simply care about the cause. The geographical focus of this guide is the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

MENAHRA and women who use drugs

In 2013, the Middle East and North Africa Harm Reduction Association (MENAHRA) which is a network focusing on harm reduction strategies for People Who Use Drugs (PWUD) in the MENA region, conducted operational research on women injecting drug users in 6 countries of the MENA region. In the follow-up on this research, the Guidelines on Gender Equality in HR services and an Advocacy Brief on specific harm reduction services for women were developed. Both the research and the guide clearly show the needs of WWUD and the present situation of limited access and availability of harm reduction services for women in the MENA region. They also describe the most ideal situation of full access and availability of gender specific harm reduction services. Many changes are needed to make harm reduction accessible for women.

Knowing what you want to change and what you want to achieve is essential. Unfortunately, it’s often not enough to make it a reality. That’s where advocacy comes in.

Practical guide

When Mainline set out to develop the manual, it explicitly decided not to reinvent the wheel. There are already many excellent guides available – both to advocate for harm reduction and to advocate for women’s health and rights. Mainline collected what is there, made smart combinations and connected this information to the realities in the Middle East and North Africa. The result is a practical guideline, easy to use and culturally appropriate.

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