This post is the first in a series featuring case studies of mobilisation from the 2020 Support. Don’t Punish Global Day of Action. We’re grateful to Metzineres for their beautiful and powerful contribution to our collective movement, and to the Women and Harm Reduction International Network (WHRIN), for their continued support to community-led initiatives by women who use drugs worldwide. On 26 June 2021, join us in this international show of force for sustainable alternatives to punitive drug policies. Support. Don’t Punish!
Metzineres, the first integrated harm reduction programme exclusively for women and gender non-conforming people, has taken part in the Support. Don’t Punish Global Day of Action in Catalonia since the project’s foundation, in 2017.
Metzi’s activity for this year aimed at reinforcing bonds between programme participants and the neighbours of El Raval, where Metzineres’ drop-in centre is located, in downtown Barcelona. The Juan Andrés agora, a plot of land reclaimed from dereliction by the locals, became a space to share ideas about the value of Metzineres, both for participants and the local community.
In a move that reflects the resourcefulness of Metzineres, programme participants became reporters during the event, making short video interviews that fed into a video feature documenting the Global Day of Action experience.
Aura, who coordinated the activity, explains a key goal of the activity was to challenge prevailing narratives on women who use drugs: ‘[When it comes to drugs,] there is a lot of talk about problems; we wanted to show what support looks like.’
While the neighbours of the drop-in centre had been highly cautious when Metzineres was first set up, the COVID-19 pandemic put into sharp relief everyone’s interdependence, and offered an opportunity to strengthen bonds of trust and solidarity.
By fostering dialogue and sharing experiences with the local community, Metzineres is de-constructing and undoing decades of stigma and discrimination directed at people who use drugs and in situations of vulnerability. And making it clear that kinder, respectful, more effective and empowering responses to drug-related challenges are possible and achievable.
The enthusiasm of the Global Day of Action had a scent of paella (a popular celebratory dish), as huge pans were prepared for the documentary’s première. The meal was a way to thank the neighbours and create yet another opportunity to build a sense of community.
This was the perfect occasion to build bridges, said Aura. ‘The Global Day of Action is one of the few moments in the year when allies from across Catalonia come to Barcelona and gather around an internationally recognised action’. It creates space to do something positive for the community, as the whole world is listening. And we seize the moment to say:
“We are not victims, we are the revolution!