The Pompidou Group recognised the need to incorporate a gender dimension into drug policies early on. With a first symposium hosted by Switzerland in 1988, it sought to foster a better understanding of the specificities of each gender in terms of drug use and treatment. Since then, a gender-sensitive approach has become an important crosscutting issue in the Pompidou Group’s work.

 Read more about the Pompidou Group’s work on gender

 Implementing a gender approach in drug policies - Handbook for practitioners and decision makers

The publication “Implementing a gender approach in drug policies: prevention, treatment and criminal justice, handbook for practitioners and decision makers” is the result of a 2020-2021 online consultation involving 13 countries taking place during the Covid 19 pandemic.

The handbook aims at providing policy makers and practitioners in the drug field with evidence-based and operational recommendations to develop and implement policies and interventions that better integrate specific gender needs (gender-sensitive approach) and support more gender equity (gender-transformative approach) for people concerned with the provision of drug-related prevention and care (risk and harm reduction, treatment, reintegration), including in the criminal justice system.

Examples of policies with a gender perspective are given from Ireland, Mexico, Spain, and local level: Reykjavik.

Examples of Prevention, Criminal Justice and Treatment cover projects from France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, North Macedonia, Portugal, Greece, Serbia, Spain.


 Other actions in this field

 Publication "Needs of women with substance use disorders in Lebanon" (2019)

 Conference on mainstreaming a gender perspective in drug policy (Mexico, 2018)

 Seminar on Women and Drugs: from policy to good practice (Italy, 2017)

 Synthesis report “Violence, Women and Rape Drugs” (2017)

 The gender dimension of non-medical use of prescription drugs in Europe and the Mediterranean region (2015)

 Review of literature “Violence experienced or perpetrated, and psychoactive substance use among women in Europe and in the Mediterranean region” (2015)

 Women, drugs and violence: consultation of professionals (2015)

 Seminar on Women, Drugs and Violence in Europe and the Mediterranean Region (Italy, 2015)

 Interview “A pill for every ill?” (2015)

 Interview "Gender Mainstreaming in Council of Europe activities" (2015)

 Gender-sensitive approach in Mediterranean co-operation

The gender dimension has been incorporated into the work programme of the Mediterranean Network on Drugs and Drug Addiction (MedNET), through projects aimed at improving access to health, prevention and treatment for women suffering from substance use disorders. The activities implemented in the Mediterranean region are as follows:

  • Algeria: awareness-raising seminar on women and drugs (2017), and creation of a national committee on women (2018);
  • Egypt: creation of a specific care and treatment service for women, followed by the development of a care and treatment model for pregnant women with substance use disorders (2016-2018);
  • Lebanon: inclusion of women’s needs in the country’s first national substance use strategy (2016), together with a project designed to identify the needs of women with substance use disorders (2018); specific programmes developed for women who use drugs with the aim of improving and increasing their access to treatment and care services (2020), facilitated by a study visit by Lebanese health professionals to France (2020).

 Read more under MedNET publications

 Contribution to the Gender Equality Strategy

The Pompidou Group has been contributing to the Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy and its activities in this area are listed in the annual reports of the Council of Europe’s Secretary General on the implementation of the Gender Equality Strategy. The Pompidou Group is involved in the 2018-2023 Strategy under its Strategic objective 6 “Achieve gender mainstreaming in all policies and measures” which makes a specific reference to women who use drugs and, hence too, to Pompidou Group activities in this field.

Seminar on drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA): a challenge to gender-based violence

Date: 18 May 2022, from 9:15am to 4:30pm
Location: National Economic and Labour Council (CNEL), Rome, Italy

Fabiana Dadone, Minister for Youth Policy with delegation for policies to prevent and combat addiction, opened the seminar organized as part of the Italian Chairmanship programme of the Council of Europe on the topic of Drugs Facilitated Sexual Assaults (DFSA) together with the Pompidou Group. The seminar was organised back-to-back with the 90th meeting of the Permanent Correspondents of the Group.

The phenomenon of DFSAs is closely linked to the issue of protecting and promoting women's fundamental rights and preventing gender-based violence, one of the priorities identified by the Italian Presidency at the Council of Europe (November 2021 - May 2022). The event was attended by 20 international delegations in presence and 21 connected online, as well as researchers, forensic experts, professionals working on gender-based violence and in the field of addiction and representatives of law enforcement agencies. It was structured in interactive sessions and its main purpose was to provide examples of good practices and guidelines for addressing this phenomenon.

“The use of drugs to commit crimes of sexual assault represents a relevant public as well as social problem that needs a holistic approach and common and shared policy solutions. In this sense, the analysis and in-depth analysis of data based on scientific evidence, accompanied by a timely exchange of information and best practices among national and international stakeholders, constitute crucial moments of the capacity-building process useful for the promotion of effective actions and public policies to protect the portions of the population that, for multiple reasons, turn out to be the most vulnerable. After the presentation of the Italian candidacy for the next presidency of the Pompidou Group, I hope that other events like this can be hosted on our territory in the next three years because I believe they truly represent an added value at the international level", Fabiana Dadone, Minister for Youth Policies with delegation for Anti-Drug Policies, commented on the relevance of the event on the international agenda.

Press release (Italian)

Photos of the event


Symposium on gender and drugs

Date: 22 November 2022, 9am to 17pm Lisbon time
Location: LxAddictions conference site

The drug phenomenon has often been addressed as gender neutral, although sex and gender play an important role in: pathways to drug use, behaviours, correlates and harms of drug use and drug addiction. In addition, an intersectional approach has rarely been applied and research has often omitted how gender interacts with other factors, such as gender identity and sexuality.

This Symposium on gender and drugs aims to understand how gender and drugs interplay, by:

  • increasing awareness on the need to incorporate a gender perspective in the drugs field as a way to better understand the drug phenomenon as whole;
  • discussing gender and drugs from a multidisciplinary perspective;
  • identifying ways to incorporate a gender perspective in the drugs field at international level.

The event is co-organised by the EMCDDA and the Pompidou Group, with the support of SICAD and with the collaboration of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE).

Registration (deadline 30 September 2022, no registration fee).

Final programme (English only)

For more information, contact: [email protected]