Presenting author: Gloria Lai
Presenting author biography:
Gloria Lai is the Regional Director: Asia for the International Drug Policy Consortium, a global network of civil society organisations advocating for drug policies that promote human rights and social justice. She has worked for IDPC since 2011 and currently based in Bangkok, Thailand.
Growing intersectional feminism in drug policy advocacy in Southeast Asia
Since the 2016 UNGASS highlighted the specific needs of women and youth as priorities, more opportunities have emerged for people impacted by drug policies amongst these groups to advocate for reform in Southeast Asia. Further opportunities have arisen to forge new alliances by incorporating intersectional approaches to work with groups such as migrant workers, women with disabilities, and Indigenous women.
The “Strengthening and amplifying the voices of women and young people affected by punitive drug policies in Southeast Asia” (INSPIRE) project has given a unique opportunity for the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) to work with community and civil society organisations in Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia, to engage women including transgender women, and young people, in advocacy towards decriminalisation and harm reduction. The involvement of IDPC and the INSPIRE project leads (Aksi and Womxn’s Voice in Indonesia) in a parallel regional project known as “Forging Intersectional Feminist Futures” – which aims to develop a regional strategy for intersectional advocacy involving women with disabilities, indigenous women, LGBTQ+ people, women migrant workers and women who use drugs – has presented challenges with engaging audiences new to harm reduction and drug policy reform. However it has created important spaces for dialogue and strengthened our advocacy capacity, while also opening new avenues for expanding our advocacy, e.g. through CEDAW processes.
There is a heightened awareness of the need to be inclusive of all people affected by punitive drug policies in advocacy efforts. This had led to greater efforts to adopt intersectional approaches which has strengthened advocacy and diversified the movement. In increasingly repressive political contexts and amidst a decline in international funding for HIV and harm reduction in the region, the growing diversification of strong voices is critical if transformative change is to be achieved.