A young woman farmer with a child in a drug-crop cultivation area in Bolivia.
Photo: © GIZ/John Márquez

‘Raising voices’: how women in drug crop cultivation areas live

A new publication of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (giz) GmbH: ‘Raising voices’ calls for us to listen to women in drug-crop cultivation regions and make use of their knowledge.

What do we know about how women in drug-crop cultivation areas live? What experience and skills do they have, and how can these be applied to improve the living circumstances of small-scale farming families? The new short publication ‘Raising voices: empowering female farmers in drug-crop cultivation areas’ summarises the experiences and stories of the small-scale female farmers and seeks to motivate political decision makers and implementing organisations to incorporate these in their development-oriented drug programmes.

‘Raising voices’ is the product of the first interregional sharing of experience between small-scale female farmers. This took place in Mexico in 2018. The ‘Sustainable rural development’ sector project and the Global Partnership on Drug Policies and Development (both giz organised the meeting jointly with the philanthropic Open Society Foundations on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The goal was to better understand the situation of women in drug-crop cultivation areas.

Illegal drug crops are often cultivated in remote rural areas in developing countries. These regions are characterised by poverty, food insecurity, conflicts and weak state structures. In their village communities, women perform a wide range of responsible tasks, but are frequently discriminated against and are unable to participate actively in economic and political decision making. They experience the negative effects of the illegal drug trade on a daily basis. However, their stories and experiences are seldom told.

By tapping on their knowledge and skills, development-oriented drug programmes can better address the needs of affected people on a more sustainable basis and be more effective. Women are a strong pillar of rural communities, and their voices need to be heard. This is the only way to achieve sustainable development.

Author: Sarah David, Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (giz) GmbH, Bonn, Germany

More Information and download:
Raising voices: empowering female farmers in drug crop cultivation areas
By Sarah David; Catalina Gil Pinzón; Elisa Lorenz; Antonia Schmidt; giz, Bonn, 2019:

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