Germany: Sector programme “Sustainable rural areas” – International meetings of women living in drug crop cultivation areas

Projects involved:
 Sector Project “Sustainable Rural Areas” (SV ZLR1, GG1) – Division G530
The sector project advises the BMZ on anchoring rural development approaches, including Alternative Development, in international policy processes. It cooperates with key national and international partners, supports international expert discussions and accompanies the adaptation and dissemination of concepts and instruments.
As agreed in the impact matrix, in the field of Alternative Development, at least two out of six contributions by or on behalf of the BMZ to national and international conferences on alternative development have a gender focus.
o Head of project: Petra Jacobi
o Responsible: Sarah David, Advisor
 IZR Project “Global Partnership on Drug Policies and Development” (GPDPD, GG1) – Division G520:
The GPDPD cuts across both multiple sectors and geographical regions. Its aim is to advance and refine evidence-based development, public health and human rights-oriented approaches to drug policy in close collaboration with interested governments, international organisations, academia and civil society.
The GPDPD monitors continuously how its project activities contribute to enhanced gender equality by documenting the gender-sensitivity of its events (as in sex-disaggregated data collection in counting participants and active speaker roles) and by measuring the outreach of gender-related content on the GPDPD’s project website and Twitter account. These results as well as descriptions of gender-focused activities are included in documents prepared for internal and external evaluations, such as the Gender+Safeguards analysis and the central external project evaluation (zPEV).
o Head of project: Daniel Brombacher
o Responsible: Antonia Schmidt, Junior Advisor
Partners involved:
 Open Society Foundations (OSF), Global Drug Policy Program
Corporación Humanas, non-governmental organization (NGO) in Colombia

Women living in rural communities face serious social and economic challenges as a result of gender-based stereotypes and discrimination that bar them from equitable access to opportunities, resources, assets, and services. Like women living in urban areas, the work of raising a child and running a household is not considered an essential contribution to the household economy, nor to the GDP. In addition, their crucial role in ensuring food security, such as small-scale farming and animal husbandry, is disproportionately undervalued. Cultural practices and barriers make it difficult for women to even recognize their own interests, let alone make these interests visible and factored into decision-making processes. Despite women’s essential contribution to poverty reduction and food security in rural areas, their roles and interests are often overlooked because land ownership is predominantly patrilineal.
The drug crops opium poppy, coca and cannabis are mostly cultivated illegally by small-scale farmers in developing countries in Latin America and Southeast Asia. These plants are the main source of income for many families. Drug-producing regions are often disadvantaged, remote areas characterised by poverty, insecure land rights and a weak infrastructure. Many people have little or no access to health care and education. Women living in areas of drug crop cultivation face the added stigma associated with obtaining their income from an illegal activity. In addition, in certain drug crop cultivation areas, women are vulnerable to increased levels of violence perpetrated by the state and/or illegal armed groups.
The approach of Alternative Development (AD), promoted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), aims to sustainably secure the livelihood of small farmers by building up economic alternatives and thus reduce their dependence on the illicit drug economy. In AD projects and programmes, the explicit strengthening of women is crucial because of their often disadvantaged position and their important role in fostering the sustainable development of their communities. To this end, thorough evidence about the lives of women in drug crop cultivation areas is needed in order to ensure a gender-sensitive design of drug programmes and policies.
Despite increasing interest in development-oriented approaches in the international drug policy debate, there is yet little evidence and exchange on how to best address women’s needs nor a deep-enough understanding about their role in driving AD processes forward. This includes assessing the motivation, needs, barriers, and risks that come with participation in development-oriented drug policy measures.
Though initial local and regional efforts have been made to learn about the specific challenges and needs of women living in areas where coca and opium poppy cultivation takes place, attempts to give them a voice and allow for exchange on an inter-regional level are scarce.
To gain a better understanding of the situation women are facing in areas of drug crop cultivation, the Open Society Foundations’ Global Drug Policy Program in cooperation with the Colombian NGO Corporación Humanas and GIZ (SV ZLR and GPDPD), on behalf of BMZ, brought together 19 female farmers in an inter-regional meeting for the first time in Mexico City in September 2018. Participants from Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, as well as experts on development-oriented drug policies and programmes from Afghanistan and Thailand, discussed their views and experiences. The meeting provided extremely valuable insights about the different realities of women living in drug crop cultivation areas and of those having engaged in AD programmes. This first exchange called for a continuation of the joint effort.

A second forum, focusing on bringing together women from drug crop cultivation areas in Latin America, was organized by GIZ, OSF and Corporación Humanas in Mexico City in November 2019. Seventeen female farmers from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico discussed the unique and shared characteristics of their lives in rural drug crop cultivation areas in different regions. Special attention was paid to their roles, skills, risks, and vulnerabilities related to their participation and involvement in cooperatives, social or community organizations in drug crop cultivation areas and/or Alternative Development Programmes. It was meant to further elevate the profile of rural women from these areas, strengthening informal networks between them through the use of digital tools. Another objective was to contribute to the international policy debate on development-oriented drug policy, gender and rural development. This effort seeks to ensure that policy recommendations are more evidence-based.
Short term:
 Empowering participants/network creation:
The participants’ organizational skills were developed and/or strengthened in order to enable them to prioritize and voice their needs and demands in decision-making processes and enhance their influence in the public sphere. A specific capacity-building element in network creation was part of the second workshop.
 General visibility:
Video interviews with female farmers who are part of AD projects were carried out during the second meeting. These will be used to increase awareness of the importance of the issue among the general public as well as in the agendas of key stakeholders. The videos are foreseen to be published at and further disseminated through the project’s Twitter account2.
Medium term:
 Visibility at international level:
Furthermore, the organizers are planning to carry out a side event at the 63rd Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna in March 2020, presenting the reality of women living in drug crop cultivation areas and the policy recommendations stemming from both meetings. The CND is the United Nations body for the development and coordination of international drug policies. Fifty-three countries are represented in the CND, which meets annually in Vienna at the seat of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). GIZ on behalf of BMZ promotes development-oriented drug policy approaches at the CND and regularly co-organizes side events3. Due to its relevance as the core policy-making body for international drug policies, side events at the CND ensure high visibility of specific issues at the international level.

Long term:
 Policy Recommendations:
The results of the discussions during the first meeting were summarized into a public policy recommendations document. The publication Raising Voices stipulates how to incorporate and implement gender perspectives in drug policies, especially those pertaining to drug crop cultivation. It emphasizes the involvement of female stakeholders in all stages of the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of development-oriented drug policies and programmes, as stated in the Outcome Document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem.
The development of a consecutive practical guide/policy recommendations on how to address the specific situation of women in drug crop cultivation areas and how to create gender-responsive and -transformative development-oriented drug policies and Alternative Development projects is currently being evaluated.
Sustainable drug policies are human-centred, based on scientific evidence, and integrate all key stakeholders. The SV ZLR and the GPDPD, on behalf of BMZ, regularly cooperate with international organisations, academia, foundations and civil society organisations to jointly promote evidence-based development and human rights-oriented drug policies. Working together with the Colombian NGO Corporación Humanas and the Drug Policy Program of the Open Society Foundations was another effort in showing how effective cooperation between government and civil society can look like.
The basis for this cooperation was a set of common goals and priorities in promoting gender equality in development-oriented drug policies and programmes. The Drug Policy Program of the Open Society Foundations aims at promoting drug policies rooted in human rights, sustainable development, social justice, and public health. Corporación Humanas’ mission is the promotion and defence of women’s human rights, international humanitarian law and gender justice in Colombia and Latin America.
Working together with both partners has enabled us to be pioneers in making the situation of female farmers in drug crop cultivation areas visible and raising their voices at the international level, based on their first-hand experiences and accounts. This was made possible by accessing new networks on the ground through the trusted relationships maintained by our partner organisations.

 Balancing the interests of a government institution and a civil society organisation or private foundation (e.g. selection of participants)
 Agreeing on specific drug policy language used in joint documents

Three key success factors:
 Maintaining regular contact for conceptualizing and organizing the events
 Communicating individual partner interests and objectives and finding compromises
 Continuous feedback and evaluation