Atenea is a Woman’s Name

"Women and drugs" - A contribution from the Atenea Foundation

Fundación Atenea

One of the distinctive traits of the Atenea Foundation is the investigation of social reality, which intervenes to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness in its work and in fulfilling our mission. To do this, it is essential to produce exchange and reflect on knowledge acquired during the experience.

During the last decade, one of our top priority lines of work has been that of gender and equal opportunities between men and women. Within this framework, a lot of our actions have been directed at demanding and promoting the incorporation of the gender perspective into public policies, as well as highlighting the lack of flexibility and access that resources and social programs have in order to attend women’s specific needs.

Following our research – intervention – evaluation scheme, several studies and investigation have been developed, focusing on women and addictions area, intensifying this line in the past two years in which, a number of studies have been published due the financing of the Government delegation for the National Drugs Plan.

The most recent is “The incorporation of the gender perspective into drug addiction Planning: diagnosis and recommendations,” conducted by Raquel Cantos Vicent with the support of the working team consisting of Yolanda Nieves Martín and Carlos Molina Sánchez.

This study, stresses that the differences between sexes are clear, in the consumption of substances, attributable to gender issues, the same as the difference the use of the health-care resource network by both sexes. The figures for people in treatment, according to gender, show unequal access to drug addiction resources. This may well be due to the lower number of women drug addicts, but also to badly adapting these resources and their needs.

In addition, the presence of other variables such as abuse or family responsibilities, are frequent and require specific action. The existing social image in relation to women drug addicts generates greater rejection and social isolation for women in this situation and makes recognition of their addiction and treatment more difficult.

When faced with such evidence there is a need to include the gender perspective in the diagnosis, prevention planning and care of drug addicts. Developing resources and specific programs for the care of women with drug problems is also necessary, especially those that have a greater social risk.

That is why this investigation evaluates the incorporation of the gender aspect in planning related to drug addiction studies on different administrative levels in Spain, as well as giving recommendations on including the gender perspective in planning related to drug addiction.

Woman inhaling crackThere has been an analysis of different strategies and plans regarding drugs, using three different methodological instruments. One of them has been to develop a systematic analysis of the discourse, which includes the creation of a structure, made from of various different theoretical proposals, which allow the identification of to what degree the perspective of gender should be included in analysed documents.

The structure focuses on the prerequisites (check if the institutions responsible for the elaboration of public policies comply with the minimum conditions for the incorporation of the gender perspective), the diagnosis (verify if the plans include a description of starting points of social disadvantage differences and inequality between men and women, in their contextualizations, as well as giving a social explanation from the gender perspective for them) and planning (check if the challenges and the results that the policies propose take into account the constraints of gender and propose actions and measures based on this).

The conclusions of the above mentioned study show that, although there are preconditions for main streaming a gender perspective and the majority of plans and strategies on drugs in Spain have expressed their intention to do so, the inclusion of the same is merely anecdotal. They do not seem to assimilate the methodological and strategic alternatives that involve analysing the social reality of any problem taking into account gender restrictions.

This research was focused on drug policies but the tool allows the analysis of to what extent the gender perspective has been included in any other policy or strategy, whatever it may be related to.

Regarding the investigation “Incorporation of the gender perspective in the Planning regarding drug addiction: diagnosis and recommendations” you can consult the Fundación Atenea (Atenea Foundation) website http://fundacionatenea.org/2012/08/12/investigaciones/.

In addition to continuing with the gender focused work since the investigation, in 2016 we are concentrating on raising awareness through our work.

In this sense, we are developing an exhibition that will travel to various Spanish territories during this year, which is called “What statistics hide.” It seeks to make people aware of the importance of interpreting statistical data from a gender perspective, as well as opening people’s eyes to the reality lived and suffered by a lot of women who consume drugs or have addiction problems. In fact, approximately 25% of people with drug problems are women and this matter is generally invisible, but there are also aspects which go unnoticed regarding consumption, stigma and specific needs of care received (or given) by a woman.

The exhibition will be available in different territories, while celebrating a women and drugs day in each of these territories. This day will include a framework presenting women, drugs and social exclusion and will culminate in a space for debate and exchange on any of the proposed topics (women’s consumption data, women drug consumers’ social image, women consumers in prison or care and drug consumption are some of these topics).

All of the information on “Women and drugs. What statistics hide” may be seen athttp://mujerydrogas.fundacionatenea.org