WHRIN’s Strategy 2021 – 2023, was developed on the basis of a series of virtual consultations. These included discussions among Board Members, Advisory Group, and the WHRIN Coordinator, an online members’ survey, and group or one on one discussions with WHRIN’s partner organisations and key stakeholders.
WHRIN has identified five strategic priorities, based on the global needs and gaps in gender responsive harm reduction, and on WHRIN’s own strengths and experience.
WHRIN’s members are the heart of the network and the driving force behind all of its activities. WHRIN will accord ingly focus on building this network by deepening engagement with its existing membership and by reaching out to form new alliances that will expand the scope of its membership. WHRIN will also continue its inclusive practice of actively engaging its members and generating consensus around key elements of its workplan. In tandem, WHRIN will refine and ratify structure and governance underpinnings to facilitate accountability to members and growth of the network while ensuring ongoing emphasis on engagement with members who are women with lived experience of drug use.
WHRIN will work to further enhance the quality of interactions among its members with the following strategies:
This includes developing, organising and adding new content to the WHRIN website; expanding the virtual library to make it the “go to” place for public access resources relating to women and harm reduction; revitalizing the listserv; improving availability of high quality, community generated data on drug use and harm reduction.
This includes resources such as position papers, a quarterly digest for dissemination to membership and beyond, and annual reports. WHRIN will also work (often with relevant partners) to address critical gaps in gender responsive harm reduction (see Section 2.1.1 below).
This will be designed to build awareness of WHRIN as an organisation and of WHRIN’s activities. The communications strategy will include a media outreach strategy and will be aligned with WHRIN’s ongoing work on the Harm Reduction Consortium global drug policy index.
WHRIN is a young organisation, with ambitious goals. To successfully achieve those goals, WHRIN’s organisation must evolve and grow. To that end, WHRIN will undertake the following:
Intersectionality is at the core of WHRIN’s value system and membership structure. WHRIN will expand on the important and successful work already underway, building alliances with organisations whose work, values and target audiences intersect with WHRIN’s own. WHRIN will also work to create balance in member and stakeholder engagement in both the Global North and the Global South with a particular strategic focus on the Global South, where gaps and needs are especially acute.
WHRIN will continue its work to expand gender awareness in the harm reduction community, to ensure that harm reduction stakeholders and service providers take women’s gender specific needs into account in all aspects of their work. WHRIN will work with harm reduction consortium members and organisations that have intersecting mandates to pursue joint goals and align efforts.
WHRIN will build on established synergies and expand linkages with its existing partners and women’s organisations, including United Nations Organisations, with a focus on core overlapping areas, such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender based violence, safe housing & shelters, decriminalisation, and incarceration. Activities WHRIN will continue and expand include:
Engagement with all who self identify as women is a core WHRIN value. WHRIN will specifically focus on expanding its engagement with gender non conforming communities.
Highlight LGBTQIA across WHRIN’s work, wherever possible.
Mainstream human rights organisations tend to have gaps in working with people who use drugs, especially women. WHRIN will utilise its expertise in intersectionality to reach out to and proactively engage with human rights and legal aid organisations.
The year 2020 saw the rise of new and vibrant movements that shed light on global inequalities. WHRIN core values also address structural inequalities. WHRIN will continue to invest in forging stronger alliances with the women’s movement, the HIV sector and drug user networks, and also explore partnerships with other agencies that share WHRIN’s values and have intersecting mandates.
WHRIN’s primary goal is to improve availability and accessibility of services for WUD. To that end, WHRIN will focus on building capacity to provide gender responsive harm reduction services. As a virtual network with global reach, WHRIN is especially well suited to undertake this work, (even in the context of COVID restrictions).
WHRIN will engage collaboratively with existing harm reduction services and new grassroots community organisations that work with WUD to provide mutual support and engagement to foster the development of gender responsive harm reduction and other services for WUD. To address capacity gaps, WHRIN will undertake the following activities:
WHRIN will collaborate with relevant organisations to develop critical elements of gender responsive harm reduction services, through activities, such as:
WHRIN will work together with grassroots organisations to expand capacity to conduct advocacy, such as building the skills to actively participate in key international fora and to develop position statements on issues critical to WUD. WHRIN will work to build bridges between international advocacy efforts and successes (normative guidance, policy, etc.) and community initiatives and follow up advocacy actions at national and local levels.
WHRIN’s reach is global and affords its members the opportunity to learn from the collective experience of membership. At the same time, WHRIN’s members recognise that needs, issues and attitudes towards gender and harm reduction differ significantly across countries and regions. For this reason, WHRIN will work with national and regional level partners, building on the Mapping of Harm Reduction Services for Women Who Use Drugs already underway, to develop targeted regional and country specific information and advocacy materials. The aim is to appropriately address the specific challenges that individual member organisations and countries face when establishing women friendly harm reduction services. In so doing, WHRIN’s work will support the establishment and growth of evidence based and gender responsive harm reduction interventions, by bridging with community organisations to translate international best practice into context specific practical approaches tailored to national and regional contexts.
Organisations working with WHRIN may lack the resources or capacity to effectively support gender responsive harm reduction programming. For this reason, WHRIN will collaborate with such organizations to develop a series of learning tools tailored to specific needs. This could include building capacity on drug use and harm reduction targeted at, for example, women’s organizations, for health workers and for law enforcement. Learning materials may take the form of information pamphlets, workshops or practical webinars on intersecting issues such as how to provide appropriate services for WUD at women’s shelters. Similarly, these allied organisations have a range of strengthens and capacities from which WHRIN can learn. WHRIN will work in partnership with these allies to identify relevant skills and capacities and engage in joint learning and capacity building activities to better meet the needs of women who use drugs.
Advocacy is a pillar of WHRIN’s approach and it one of WHRIN’s key strengths. WHRIN will build on its established experience in advocacy by continuing and strengthening the scope of its core advocacy activities:
WHRIN has initiated a global survey mapping harm reduction programming for women, a flexible “live” documentation project that allows for additions and adjustments as harm reduction programs evolve. WHRIN will showcase these examples in the WHRIN virtual library.
The WHRIN virtual library will continue to feature and promote examples of research, advocacy, data collection and services in a range of regional and national settings (including in languages other than English, as available).
In addition, WHRIN will work as part of the Harm Reduction Consortium on its new project, the Global Drug Policy Index, to support the inclusion of a gender responsive perspective in the development and implementation of the new composite drug policy index and resulting advocacy activities.
WHRIN’s Strategic Plan is ambitious as it must be to correspond with the global scale of unmet need for gender responsive harm reduction services. Full implementation of this plan will build awareness of the particular needs of women who use drugs and improve capacity for and implementation of gender sensitive harm reduction responses while moving the global harm reduction agenda forward.