Strategy Development

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.

Strategic Direction 2021-2023

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.

1. Building The Network

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.

Deepen member engagement

WHRIN will work to further enhance the quality of interactions among its members with the following strategies:

Expanding and optimising existing resources

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.

Developing and disseminating new resources

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).

Developing and implementing a comprehensive external communications strategy

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.

Structure and governance

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:

  • Develop foundational legal documents, in conjunction with registration.
  • Establish and implement key governance structures and formal guidelines for existing governance structures, through a process of member consultation.
  • Implement the existing key internal policies, including those related to human resources, financial procedures etc. in line with registration requirements.
  • Expand human resources to include critical skill sets such as finance, communications and project management.
  • Develop reasonable and measurable indicators to track progress.
  • Drawing on Board evaluation outcomes, further develop the capacity of board members.

2. Developing alliances with an intersectional approach

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.

Harm reduction stakeholders

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.

Women’s Organisations

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:

  • Development of joint briefs and position papers
  • Active participation in key organisations and events such as the Commission on the Status of Women, EVAWUD, SDP, among others
  • Development of the internship program

Gender non conforming communities

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.

  • Reach out to gender non-conforming organisations to engage with members who use drugs
  • Build partnerships with gender non conforming communities and representative organisations
  • In close collaboration with gender non-conforming  organisations, develop and disseminate harm reduction information that is tailored to the gender non-conforming community
  • Highlight gender non-conforming across WHRIN’s work, wherever possible.

Human Rights Organisations

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.

Organisations that focus on inequality and the range of intersectional issues

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.

3. Strengthen the movement by building capacity

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).

Support and mentor existing and nascent organisations that are led by or work with WUD

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:

Develop curricula, guidelines and toolkits to address gaps and new issues as they arise

WHRIN will collaborate with relevant organisations to develop critical elements of gender responsive harm reduction services, through activities, such as:

  • Developing a workshop curriculum for harm reduction and SRH services to build capacity for SRH integration for WUD
  • Developing  tools  to  build  capacity  for  women’s shelters to accommodate WUD
  • Developing safe injecting Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials for and by WUD
  • Developing a toolkit to support harm reduction services to better respond to violence against WUD
  • Building and expanding on the WHRIN model for addressing ATS intersectionality to incorporate a gender perspective

Build grassroots advocacy capacity

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.

Build regional and country specific capacity for women sensitive harm reduction programming

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.

Build capacity in partnership with allied organisations

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.

4. Advocacy

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:

  • Work with harm reduction partners to develop joint statements and campaigns
  • Develop advocacy materials including position papers and webinars
  • Actively participate in key international for a such as the HIV and harm reduction conferences, the Commission on the Status of Women, AWID forums and the CND.
  • Engage in joint advocacy work with new allies based on identification of common interests Develop shadow  reports,  building  on  the  CEDAW experience in Indonesia
  • Engage specifically on the gender aspects of criminalisation and the war on drugs
  • Support grassroots organisations to collaborate in global advocacy and to make linkages between international decisions and national change

5. Generate evidance and disseminate best practice

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.

© 2022 • Women and Harm Reduction International Network

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