Elimination of violence against women who use drugs- A global campaign

Non-binary people, as well as trans and cis women, experience higher rates of violence than women in the general public. Drug-using, non-binary people and trans and cis women notably face barriers when attempting to access health and social services due to stigma and discrimination. In response to this injustice, Street Health offers a drop-in program that addresses the precarious nature of life for trans women, non-binary people, and cis women who use drugs and are vulnerably housed or homeless. The drop-in serves as a community support group, a safe space where members can come together share their stories of collective struggle, and access support services. On November 25th of 2021, participants from the drop-in program hosted an event at Street Health to commemorate the Elimination of Violence against women who use drugs campaign (EVAWUD), a global campaign coinciding with the United Nations international day to eliminate violence against women.

Street Health was joined by Sistering, a multi-service agency for at-risk, socially isolated women and trans people, and by TransPride Toronto, who work to improve the lives and well-being of Trans/2Spirit, Black, and Non-Binary identities. The three organizations came together to acknowledge the need to specifically address how violence affects trans women, non-binary people, and cis women who use drugs and to listen and honour the voices of the community. The event played host to speakers who bravely shared their lived experience of violence, traditional indigenous drumming, and the unveiling of a specially designed artwork, painted by the women’s drop-in to commemorate the event.

The International Network of Women Who Use Drugs (INWUD) compiled a report to document the diverse series of actions organizations around the world displayed to end systemic and gender-based violence. We are honoured to be included in this report amongst all of the other dynamic organizations committed to building a more just world. (Read the full report)

This community-building activity highlights how courageous, resourceful and strong those facing discrimination and marginalization are and why their voices must be heard. Street Health will continue to support women and trans people as they strive to build a world where they may participate fully and have their gender identities and expressions acknowledged and affirmed without fearing the threat of violence.