EXTENDED: EHRA is looking for writers of reports and other publications

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP)

RFP Number EHRA-08-01
RFP Title External consultancy. Writers of reports and other publications
RFP Closing Date and time : 24:00 EET on August 18, 2021
Proposal Submission Address: info@harmreductioneurasia.org

 Background

Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) is a non-for-profit public membership-based organization uniting harm reduction activists and organisations from Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA) with its mission to actively unite and support communities and civil societies to ensure the rights and freedoms, health, and well-being of people who use psychoactive substances in the CEECA region.

EHRA produce up to 20 different publications per year, based on collected information or conducted meetings.

Purpose of the consultancy

EHRA is looking for a dynamic and highly skilled individual consultant to write different reports, including analytical ones, situation overviews and other communication materials.

Scope of Services

Under the general supervision of the EHRA staff the consultant will undertake the following activities:

  • Create, edit and revise various forms of publications and communication products, including but not limited to meeting reports, situational analysis or information notes, summary regional overviews based on collected data;
  • Write additional text for drafted documents, such as the Executive Summary, additional sections or significantly re-write or re-structure drafted sections into polished English/Russian. Write shorter and/or companion communication pieces for heavier, technical reports.

Cost of services and payment order

 It is planned to sign 2 years framework contract with 3-5 selected consultants. Detailed scope of work, price and deadlines will be agreed separately for each assignment.

Qualifications and experience

  • University degree in Communications, Journalism, Creative Writing, Public Relations, Social Sciences or related disciplines;
  • Good understanding of harm reduction and broader public health for people using drugs, HIV response and drug policy. Knowledge of specifics of harm reduction in CEECA region is an asset;
  • At least 3 years of proven professional experience in writing and content development for regional or international organizations (application must include examples of various publications listed in the proposed scope of work)
  • Excellent organizational skills. An ability to produce high quality outputs, while juggling multiple inputs and meeting a deadline.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, able to communicate and work with diverse people
  • Strong research and excellent writing skills in English or Russian.

Evaluation criteria / requirements for candidates:

Submitted applications will be evaluated by the evaluation panel of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association.

An evaluation panel will assess the extent to which proposals submitted in response to this announcement meet the evaluation criteria below.

The minimum technical score is 80. Only candidates with a minimum score of 80 points out of a maximum of 100 are considered eligible for the assignment.

The candidates with the highest technical score that meets the requirement will be invited for negotiation of the agreement

 

Сriteria: Points
Experience in writing and quality of the portfolio (must include publications related to public health, harm reduction or drug policy) 60
Diversity of portfolio 20
Specialized education 20
 

Maximum possible number of points

 

100

 This announcement shall not be construed as a contract or a commitment of any kind. This request for proposals in no way obligates EHRA to award a contract, nor does it commit EHRA to pay any cost incurred in the preparation and submission of the proposals.

Terms of payment and other conditions same as a final timeline will be indicated in the agreement which EHRA will sign with the winner.

How to apply

To be eligible as a EHRA consultant, any organization or individual must comply with the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association Code of Ethics which you can find at the following link: https://harmreductioneurasia.org/ehra-code-of-ethics/

Applicants must submit the following documents:

  1. Letter of interest with references to a portfolio of works or/and links to publicly accessible samples of work with indication of the price of the work on each.
  2. CV
  3. If you haven’t worked with EHRA before – contact details of at least two recent professional referees

Please submit your proposal to the info@harmreductioneurasia.org .

In the subject line of your e-mail please indicate  the RFP number and your name.  Otherwise, the application will not be considered.

Participate in the regional training on “Criminalization costs” and drug laws

The criminalization of people who use psychoactive substances in the Central and Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (CEECA) region, instead of maintenance of public health and safety, increases the financial and social burden on the states. For people who inject drugs, approximately 58% will experience incarceration in their life.

Incarceration costs 2 to 6 times more than treatment from health and social service groups. However, in almost all the countries in the CEECA region, due to de facto criminalization of people who use psychoactive substances, harm reduction and other health services are severely underfunded and depend on international donors. Guidelines from the World Health Organization recommend that at least 40% of people who use opioids receive opioid substitution therapy (OST); however, most countries in the CEECA region barely reach 20%.

Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) is inviting activists from the community of people who use psychoactive substances, as well representatives from organizations, working in the drug policy and harm reduction field in CEECA region, to apply for the participation in the regional training on “Criminalization costs” and drug laws.

Aim of the training is to learn how to use EHRA developed materials “Criminalization costs” and drug laws in the advocacy work. More information about “Criminalization costs” is here: https://harmreductioneurasia.org/ru/criminalization-costs-2/, and more information about drug laws, you can find here: https://harmreductioneurasia.org/ru/drug-laws/.

During the training we will:

  • present “Criminalization costs” and drug laws materials;
  • together with participants discuss how it can be used practically in their work;
  • provide a creative space for creating new statements followed by supporting arguments, which can be used in advocacy work, based on the pocket guide on “Criminalization costs”;
  • discuss how drug laws differ in CEECA region countries and prepare general recommendations on what works / does not work.

 

Training is planned to be held on 29-30 September in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

 

While selecting participants for the workshop, the following will be taken into account:

  • personal motivation of the participant;
  • experience working towards changing drug laws and advocating for the harm reduction services funding;
  • country (to ensure equal opportunities for participation from different countries in the region).

 

Deadline to submit application:  8 August, 2021

 

Submit your application here: https://forms.gle/9PbejPpojkuTtU2z8

EHRA is looking for writers to prepare short articles on the state of harm reduction in CECCA countries

In 2020 within the preparation of Eurasia chapter of the Global State of Harm Reduction Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) conducted interviews with national partners. Based on the gathered information EHRA recently started publishing articles providing an overview of harm reduction and drug policy developments in each country of CECCA region.

Article structure example: https://harmreductioneurasia.org/countries/slovenia/

EHRA is looking for writers to prepare similar short informational texts on the 20 countries (the consultants can choose the number of articles they are willing to work on).

Based on the desk research and transcripts of interviews selected consultants should prepare 3–5 pages informational text about the country in English or Russian.

Selection criteria:

The submitted applications will be evaluated by the selection committee of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association. The following criteria will be used to evaluate the bids (the maximum possible number of points is 100):

  • Quality of the portfolio (must include publications related to harm reduction or drug policy) (60 points)
  • Literate English or Russian (25 points)
  • Relevant education (15 points)

EHRA will consider for the contract only applicants that scored at least 80 points out of 100.

This announcement shall not be construed as a contract or a commitment of any kind. This request for proposals in no way obligates EHRA to award a contract, nor does it commit EHRA to pay any cost incurred in the preparation and submission of the proposals.

Terms of payment and other conditions same as a final timeline will be indicated in the agreement which EHRA will sign with the winner.

How to apply

Applicants must submit the following documents to maria@harmreductioneurasia.org, the subject of the letter is “Call writer”, the deadline for submission is before 24:00 EET on April 26, 2021:

  1. CV
  2. Letter of interest with suggested consultancy fee for 1 text and number of articles the consultants is willing to work on (USD)

 

 

EHRA is looking for a consultant to develop regional report on new psychoactive substance use in CEECA region

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) as a part of the three years project of the International Harm Reduction Consortium “We Will Not End AIDS Without Harm Reduction” is looking for a consultant to develop a regional report on new psychoactive substance (NPS) use in CEECA region.

Tasks of the consultant and expected results:

  • To read and analyse 8 country reports[1] on NPS use in Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Estonia and Lithuania.
  • To prepare outline for the report and agree it with EHRA.
  • To prepare regional report (in English or Russian), based on the above-mentioned reports, not exceeding 30 pages.

Proposed timeline:

All tasks should be completed in the period from 3rd May till 30th June, 2021.

Selection of the consultants will be done by the Commission in EHRA, based on the following Evaluation criteria:

  • Relevant experience in developing regional/ international reports (40 points)
  • Relevant experience in harm reduction/drug policy field and/or in new psychoactive substances (30 points)
  • Fluency in written Russian and/or English (30 points)

Condition

This announcement and its attachments shall not be construed as a contract or a commitment of any kind. This request for proposals in no way obligates EHRA to award a contract, nor does it commit EHRA to pay any cost incurred in the preparation and submission of the proposals.

Terms of payment and other conditions same as a final timeline will be indicated in the agreement which EHRA will sign with the winner.

 

HOW TO APPLY?

The candidates are invited to submit their:

  • CV
  • Letter of interest with the suggested consultancy fee (in EUR or USD) and
  • 1-2 examples of the regional/ international reports, developed by the candidate.

Please, send your documents by e-mail referenced under title “NPS report consultant” to Eliza Kurcevic at eliza@harmreductioneurasia.org by 23rd April 2021, 23:59 EET.

Results will be announced by 28th April 2021. Each candidate will be contacted individually.

Any questions regarding the participation should be sent to eliza@harmreductioneurasia.org

[1] Lithuania country report will be published on EHRA website in the end of April/ beginning of May

EHRA is looking for national consultant in Georgia to analyze the changes in the harm reduction packages and unit costs during transition from international to domestic funding

Despite commitment by governments to continue HIV prevention among key groups, transition has significantly weakened community systems and interrupted services. Available packages and quality of harm reduction services are decreasing even if services are supported. Lack of political support for harm reduction, not only as an HIV prevention measure but as a social service, is one of the main obstacles to sustainable and sufficient funding for quality programmes.[1]

Since harm reduction (HR) programs have been first introduced in the countries the package of provided services changed and varies from country to country. Georgia recently started funding the HR services from domestic resources through social-contracting and public procurement.

EHRA is looking for national consultant in Georgia to analyze the changes in the harm reduction packages and unit costs during transition from international to government funding.

Objectives of the consultancy:

  • Analyze changes in unit cost per client, list/package of services since HR services were introduced in the country using secondary data (applications to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, budgets or target setting in national documents, national AIDS response strategies, standards/packages of services and/or national unit costs calculations, state procurement tenders and contracts with service providers);
  • Describe the rationale behind the changes in the package and/or unit costs (interviews with 2-3 key national informants involved in decision-making process)
  • Analyze the impact of occurred changes in unit costs and package of HR services on services provision, quality of provided services and client satisfaction with them (interviews with services providers and community representatives/clients from different cities of the country)

Steps of the consultancy:

  1. Secondary data analysis
  2. Development of questionnaires in consultation with EHRA and national consultants from other 3 countries (Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, North Macedonia)
  3. Interviews with key informants (the list of informants should be approved by EHRA)
  • 2-3 with national stakeholders involved indecision-making process regarding unit costs, standards and packages of services
  • 5 with harm reduction services providers from different cities of the country
  • 10 with clients of opioid substitution and needle and syringe programs
  1. Prepare draft analytical report based on the collected data
  2. Finalize the report based on EHRA’s feedback

Expected results of the consultancy:

  • Analytical report in Russian or English (up to 30 pages) on how the transition process affects harm reduction packages, unit costs and quality of provided services.
  • Suggested recommendations for donors and governments based on the analyzed data and interviews with key informants
  • Translation of the report into the national language

Proposed timeline: All tasks should be completed by June 15, 2021.

This call for proposals is organized within the  “Thinking outside the box: overcoming challenges in community advocacy for sustainable and high-quality HIV services” project of the Eurasian Regional Consortium financed by the Robert Carr civil society Networks Fund (RCF).

The Eurasian Regional Consortium joins the efforts of Eurasian Coalition on Health, Rights, Gender and Sexual Diversity (ECOM), Eurasian Women’s AIDS Network (EWNA) and Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) to effectively address the lack of financial sustainability in prevention, treatment, care and support programs for the key populations vulnerable in terms of their rights violation and the risk of HIV.

Selection criteria:

The submitted applications will be evaluated by the selection committee of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association. The following criteria will be used to evaluate the bids (the maximum possible number of points is 100):

  • Knowledge and understanding of GF funding and national procurement procedures (25 points)
  • Clear understanding of situation with harm reduction funding in the country (25 points)
  • Relevant work experience (analytical reports) (20 points)
  • Established connections with service providers (15 points)
  • Experience in monitoring and evaluation (10 points)
  • Fluent Russian or English (5 points)

EHRA will consider for the contract only applicants that scored at least 80 points out of 100.

This announcement shall not be construed as a contract or a commitment of any kind. This request for proposals in no way obligates EHRA to award a contract, nor does it commit EHRA to pay any cost incurred in the preparation and submission of the proposals.

Terms of payment and other conditions same as a final timeline will be indicated in the agreement which EHRA will sign with the winner.

How to apply

Applicants must submit the following documents to maria@harmreductioneurasia.org, the subject of the letter is “Call UC”,the deadline for submission is before 24:00 EET on April 16, 2021:

  1. CV
  2. Letter of interest with suggested consultancy fee (USD) and number of working days (8 hours/day)
  3. List of potential respondents from organizations providing harm reduction services

 

 

[1] https://www.hri.global/files/2020/10/26/Global_State_HRI_2020_2_2_Eurasia_FA_WEB.pdf

Sex, rights, gender: hastening the sunrise

EHRA Senior Program Officer Maria Plotko spoke with chairwoman of the board of the Club ” Svitanok ” Svetlana Moroz about their study on “Access of women who use drugs to sexual and reproductive health, HIV and harm reduction services in Donetsk and Lugansk oblast”, advocacy for the rights of women who use drugs, and the situation with gender-sensitive services in Ukraine.

Club ” Svitanok ” is the first organization in Donetsk region created by HIV-positive people who use drugs. Club “Svitanok” provides assistance to HIV-positive and drug dependent people. Since 2012, Svitanok  focuses on working with marginalized women.

https://club-svitanok.org.ua

 


Could you please tell us
about your research? How did it appear and what are the results?

It all started in 2018, when began planning our first large project aimed specifically at sexual and reproductive health of women who use drugs in Donetsk and Lugansk oblast. This is a zone of military conflict in Ukraine. The project was funded by “Doctors of the World” (Médecins du monde) from their office in Paris. There were three main objectives. First to improve access to services, second to assess the needs, and third to build a network of friendly medical institutions and doctors.

As part of the second objective on needs assessment, we decided to conduct a community-led research. As a result, we interviewed 150 women who use drugs. 100 from Donetsk oblast, 50 from Luhansk. This study helped us better understand the socio-economic , and other barriers including internal ones related to armed conflict, which prevents women from accessing the sexual and reproductive health and other services.

We conducted two roundtables in Severodonetsk in Kramatorsk, where we invited as many stakeholders as it was possible – government officials, representatives of law enforcement and social services. Of course, representatives of the community of people who use drugs, women who use drugs. At the beginning of last year on the basis of the study report we prepared questions for the List of issues for  Ukraine  in the context of the implementation to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discriminations against Women (CEDAW) and spoke at the meeting of   the Committee in Geneva.

How did the stakeholders in Ukraine react to the results of your research?

Ambivalently. In Severodonetsk I remember the woman who is responsible for the supervision over the work of law enforcement bodies, when hearing some of the stories about police violence, asked to send her the link to the full text of the report to check it out. We, in turn, on this round table learned that during the reallocation of drug addiction center from Luhansk to Severodonetsk,  only the male branch was left and female – not. This means that now drug dependence treatment in hospital is accessible only for men. Local community groups try to push this agenda but, unfortunately, they did not have much success.

In Kramatorsk, a representative of the regional health department was surprised to hear that women did not seek ART. “How is it possible that women did not seek ART? It is available!”. So we had to discuss that the availability of ART in the AIDS  Center or in the center for infectious diseases does not always mean that women who use drugs will go there. It might be related to other, so-called social determinants, like stigma, discrimination, poverty, lack of information. The results of our research were also useful to the initiative group of women who use drugs from Slavyansk, when they joined regional coordination committee on AIDS and Tuberculosis.

Do you think the officials heard you? Has this research helped to bring any changes?

Actually, speaking about the work of these regional coordination councils, we are sometimes just glad that they meet. In general, they are quite sympathetic. But on the other hand we would like to see some political will, concrete actions, but this is more complicated.

In the pre-war times, we have had many effective solutions and this partnership gave results. In the current situation, HIV – positive people, key communities, unfortunately, have not yet become a priority. We have to prove over and over that you should not disregard these groups. People still have these stereotypes you have treatment, substitution therapy therapy, ART – what more do you want?

Therefore, issues related to human rights, stigma, discrimination, and especially gender inequality, are very difficult to convey, to convince officials that these issues matter and must be dealt with. Our study is one of the few resources and arguments.

We also shot a film in collaboration with Drug Users News , it is called “Waiting for the Sunrise. Women of Donbass” (Svitanok means sunrise in Russian). In this film there is a part about the woman who was tortured in the Luhansk People’s Republic in 2014 for being a patient of opioid substitution therapy. At Svitanok has its own history with Natasha Zelenina , who was sentenced to 11 years for drug trafficking in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. We are still fighting for her freedom,  the European Court  of Human Rights already issued interim ruling, and Natasha was  included in the prisoners’ exchange list, but continues to be held illegally in the occupied territories. When we talk about this at the meetings of Ukrainian coalition on CEDAW, to other women, and feminist organizations, it helps to make them understand why women who use drugs should not be excluded from the feminist agenda.

Could you speak more about the coalition on the report to CEDAW. Is it the first time you participate in it?

As Club “Svitanok” yes. Previously, we engaged with it through national organizations, participated in various meetings. I  like this coalition because it is really very diverse. It includes both women with multiple discrimination, and traditional for CEDAW groups like Roma and rural women. We are fighting for our marginalized women to also become a tradition. This year I was invited to facilitate the session on women living with HIV, and women who use drugs.

Now the finalization of the coalition report is underway, although it is not yet clear when the Committee will consider Ukraine, since Ukraine itself has not submitted the ninth periodic report.

For how long has this coalition exists and who is coordinating it? Does it work only within the framework of CEDAW or does it also deal with other issues?

It definitely isn’t its first year, back in 2014 “Positive women” was asked to delegate representative to share expertise on women living with HIV. And in 2017, we were invited to participate in the development of national plan for monitoring of the implementation of the Convention and the recommendations of the Committee. This is also an important that we not only write reports, but also participate in monitoring processes at the country level. The work of the coalition is coordinated by Kyiv Institute of Gender Studies, they have established good cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs, embassies and foundations that promote women’s equality. 

In November 2020, 140 people gathered at the webinar to discuss report to CEDAW. This is the first time I have witnessed such involvement at the national level. There were womens’ organizations from all over Ukraine, plus officials as high as deputy ministers.

Is it possible to build new partnerships through this coalition? Promote issues such as access for women who use drugs and/or living with HIV to shelters for women survivors of violence?

Of course it is possible. I think in some ways we have contributed to the fact that the 2018, Prime Minister Volodimir Groysman signed the new standard position on shelters, which removed  infectious diseases as a barrier. Which means that now women living with HIV have unrestricted access. Although, we still have to work on removing ” drugs or alcohol intoxication”.

One of the coalition’s members is Government Commissioner for Gender Equality Kateryna Levchenko. So there are people responsible for shaping public policy in the context of gender equality and can be our allies.

How would you assess the overall situation with gender-sensitive services in the context of HIV in Ukraine?

Promotion and implementation of gender sensitivity in HIV programs is very ad hoc, not structured, not organized, mostly through the initiative of individual organizations. And I believe that we still have quite limited expertise in this. Although it declared everywhere, but in fact the number of real gender transformative services and interventions is very limited. Usually everything comes down to  “we fund women’s organizations.” And the idea that gender policies should be cross-cutting in all organizations that work in HIV is not promoted in any way, unfortunately.

There are local governments that try to ban the use of the word “gender” in normative documents altogether, and do not accept gender programs. On top of that the prohibition of equality marches in support of the LGBT community and inter-factional groups in parliament that advocate “traditional values”. Soon we will have women’s march. We’ll see. This is usually a very important event for us.

March 8?

Yes. In Kiev we are usually guarded by lots of police, because often there are attacks, Zelyonka (triarylmethane antiseptic dye) or gas attacks. Sometimes it seems that there are more police officers than participants. March organizing committee is planning security system, communication, organize columns and ambulances, so it would always be nearby.

Such a harsh reaction to the fact that women are defending their rights?

As if that wasn’t enough, there are anti-feminists and other women who come and try to join us in a column and shout their own slogans “Death to feminism” and all that. And in small towns it is even worse. If the police do not work adequately, then the participants of the marches suffer greatly.

What is the attitude towards women living with HIV and women who use drugs in the march organizing committee? 

It’s ok with women living with HIV as long as they don’t touch the topic of sex workers and motherhood for women who use drugs.

 Last year we spoke in support of sex work and came across a lot of criticism. The fact that we oppose Article 164 of the Family Code, which says that drug addiction, alcoholism can be grounds for deprivation of parental rights, is also not supported.

Do you think it is likely that 164 article abolished will be abolished any time soon? Are there any advocacy activities on this issue?

Organisation VONA does a lot to promote this. They’ve created a movie with Drug Users News  “Targets” , and also wrote to the office The Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights. She replied that she “saw no signs of discrimination”.

But, nevertheless, we had a big victory last year, on February 25th. On that day, the ECHR ruled  in favor of drug dependent women from Russia who was deprived of her parental rights. On the same day, we won an appeal in court in Dnipro regarding the parental right of HIV positive drug dependent woman. Our activist Luda Kolomoets from “Positive women” worked on this case together with other lawyers.

How accessible is legal aid to women in such situations?

Now this area is actively developing, even the Global Fund supports it. It is already recognized as a priority at the level of national policy, for example, in a strategy for an integrated response to human rights barriers which includes ccess to justice for women from key populations, including women who use drugs.

 

In 2020, as part of the Eurasian Regional Consortium project “Thinking outside the box: overcoming challenges in community advocacy for sustainable and high-quality HIV services” with the support of the Robert Carr Fund for civil society networks (RCF), EHRA issued 3 sub-grants to promote community-led research. Club “Svitanok”.  

Help impossible to ignore

Marija Sketre, EHRA Senior Program Officer and Ganna Dovbakh, EHRA Executive Director

Our dreams

On International Women’s Day, we asked partners to share their ideas of support that should be offered to a woman using drugs experiencing violence. We share their dreams of safety, support, solidarity and protection of rights:

“Addressing violence towards women using drugs should be low threshold, integrative shelter, meeting women where they are – client-centered and client-oriented – offering variety of services to answer multiple client needs from health care response to psychosocial and legal support.”  Irena Molnar, ReGeneration, Serbia

“Shelters should provide safe space for ALL women, regardless of their status. Women using drugs are particularly vulnerable to violence, thus shelters should be non-discriminatory places, where acceptance prevails, and health services are provided. It also relates to achieving the Istanbul Convention goals, which we all strive for!” Tatjana Stoimenovska, HOPS (Healthy Options Project Skopje), North Macedonia

“I want shelters in every city to be a safe space filled with care and warmth, with friendly atmosphere and sisterhood approach! In this shelter a woman can receive all the necessary services and live from one day to 6 months. Solving her basic needs, a woman has the opportunity to take vocational courses, find a job, take her children from the orphanage, gain confidence and stability in the future!” Elena Bilokon, My home, Kazakhstan

We are worried

Unfortunately, the reality is very disappointing, and we are very far from such dream. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every third woman experiences intimate partner violence. Women using drugs, according to some studies, experience gender-based violence three to five times more often than women in the general population.

The problems of women using drugs experiencing violence in our region primarily include:

  • stigmatized attitudes of the family, social services and the whole society towards the problem of female dependence on drugs, including self-stigma;
  • difficulties with personal safety: a woman’s vulnerability to the police in connection with drug use, difficulties with accommodation in existing shelters, the risk of minor children removal;
  • difficulties in accessing psychosocial care due to discrimination on the part of social services providers, health centers and other organizations that could and should provide assistance.

Often a harm reduction organization, social worker or outreach worker is the only support available to a woman. Even so, the support in harm reduction programs and opioid substitution therapy centers for women experiencing gender-based violence, police and intimate partner violence is limited. Not all organizations have street lawyers, psychologists, psychiatrists, programs do not always guarantee personal safety and confidentiality of data, there are no safe rooms where only women can come or there is no time allocated for women only, there are no childcare services, there are no services for women, sex workers, homeless or transgender women who have experienced violence.

Emergencies such as natural disasters, situations of armed conflict, economic crises and pandemic situations – as the recent COVID-19 pandemic – significantly increase the likelihood of gender-based violence and reduce the quality of life and accessibility of support to women using drugs. Violence is on the rise in quarantine, and access to help from harm reduction programs and from support systems for women experiencing violence is decreasing.

We are in solidarity

Realizing the particular vulnerability of women using drugs in a pandemic, in 2020 EHRA gathered fellow experts on providing assistance related to gender-based violence. Together we share the experience of successful integrated services, together we develop principles and practical approaches for organizing such support. We are convinced that support to women using drugs experiencing violence should be organized taking into account the following principles:

  • Woman’s safety, meeting her specific needs, and the well-being of her children and herself are the main goals of services for women using drugs experiencing violence.
  • A woman – regardless of her drug use experience – should receive adequate support and protection in case of domestic or gender-based violence.
  • Support to a woman using drugs experiencing violence includes a range of services from ensuring the safety of a woman to medical, legal assistance and resocialization.
  • Building partnerships between state and non-governmental services, including harm reduction organizations and services for those who experienced violence, ensures the support is comprehensive, high-quality, gender-sensitive and focused on a woman using drugs, her safety and special needs.
  • Three key steps in combating gender-based violence against women using drugs: 1 – Preventing gender-based violence; 2- Organization of protection and support for women; 3 – Advocacy of changes in legislation and/or practice of its application.

Our partners from 5 countries of the EECA region are building and piloting a system of support to women, which is coordinated with harm reduction programs. They provide daily counseling, referral to shelters and ensure safety, so necessary for women experiencing violence.

We believe that dreams come true

The story of a woman using drugs who experienced violence from Ukraine proves that our dream can come true. Here it is, listen:

“God, what a terrible word, “shelter”… However, I was so surprised when at 2 am they answered my call and offered to urgently come to them. There were no requirements for referral papers, health certificates, or statements to the police. A taxi was called for me and an hour later I was in a place that became close to me.

I needed help and I got it. The first thing they asked me was whether I wanted tea or coffee, or maybe I was hungry… ”. The story was provided by the EHRA partner organization “Convictus-Ukraine”.

We want every woman to get a chance not only to hide from violence for a short time, but also to find her calling and place in life, to gain independence, same as happened with the heroine of this story. Such words are all we need to get inspiration and continue work on improving access to shelters and psychosocial services for women using drugs experiencing violence. Our slogan:

Help, impossible to ignore!

More information about the project Access to comprehensive care for women using drugs in case of violence: https://harmreductioneurasia.org/projects/c19rm/.