The Minamata Convention on Mercury pays specific attention to the needs of vulnerable populations, especially women and children, in several parts of its text. The preamble notes awareness of "health concerns, especially in developing countries, resulting from exposure to mercury of vulnerable populations, especially women, children, and through them future generations.” In addition, article 16 on health aspects, article 18 on public information, awareness and education, article 19 on research, development and monitoring and article 22 on effectiveness evaluation all refer to the needs of vulnerable groups and populations.
Furthermore, Annex C to the Convention states that National Action Plans to address artisanal and small-scale gold mining are to include strategies to prevent the exposure of vulnerable populations, particularly children and women of childbearing age, especially pregnant women, to mercury used in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
Gender activities carried out by the secretariat
At its third meeting, the Conference of the Parties decided to include gender as a focus area of the Convention’s programme of work and budget for the biennium 2020‒2021. Since then and thanks to the generous financial support of Sweden, the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention has undertaken several activities with the objective of mainstreaming gender within its programme of work. In November 2020, the Secretariat issued a call for information on gender and mercury inviting Parties and interested stakeholders to submit scientific, technical and policy information on gender and mercury. The Secretariat received submissions from 10 countries and 16 stakeholders. The information was used to develop communication and awareness raising material, including a Minamata insight publication on gender and mercury and a video, which was launched by the Secretariat on 2020 International Women’s Day. The Secretariat has also organized dedicated online events and products, such as a Minamata Online session (2021), and an InforMEA e-learning course on mercury and gender (2022).
Principles of gender equality are also embedded in the current Programme of Work of the Minamata Convention, including through the support delivered under its capacity-building and technical assistance programme.
Gender Action Plan
COP-4 decision MC-4/10 on gender mainstreaming invites Parties, inter alia, to support the secretariat in its efforts to mainstream gender into all activities to be undertaken by the secretariat as well as by parties and other stakeholders, including thorough the development of a gender action plan for the Minamata Convention during the biennium 2022‒2023.
Pursuant to decision MC-4/10, the secretariat is organizing online consultations for Parties and other stakeholders between September and November 2022 to receive input on a draft gender action, which was prepared by the secretariat thanks to the generous financial support of Sweden. A call for nominations to participate in this consultive process has been issued by the secretariat on 12 August 2022.
The draft gender action plan, incorporating the inputs received during the consultative process, is expected to be submitted for consideration by the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, which is scheduled to take place from 30 October to 3 November 2023 in Geneva.
Gender Road Map
Thanks to the generous financial support of Sweden, the Secretariat also developed a gender roadmap, which analyses current initiatives undertaken by other MEAs and UN bodies in the field of gender and identifies priority actions to be undertaken by the Secretariat with the objective of mainstreaming gender within the programme of work. At the second segment of COP-4, the Conference of the Parties took note, in decision MC-4/10, of the gender road map of the Minamata Convention, developed by the secretariat in 2021 and submitted to the Conference of the Parties in working document MC/COP.4/22 on gender mainstreaming.
The roadmap is living document, which already incorporates inputs from parties. The Secretariat is looking forward to further collaborating with Parties and stakeholders to recognize the importance of this issue and welcomes the submission of additional comments and inputs on the roadmap.
Gender focal point
Lara Ognibene, Legal/Programme Officer, has been nominated to act as gender focal point within the Secretariat’s team. Ms. Ognibene has been coordinating gender activities since November 2020 and is the Secretariat representative in the network of MEA gender focal points established by UNEP in December 2020.
Should you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact Lara Ognibene, Legal/Programme Officer, at lara.ognibene [at] un.org.
- Incorporating gender dimensions into national strategy setting in chemicals management
UNEP, joint guidance, 2021.
- Gender in National Action Plans for artisanal and small-scale gold mining
UNEP, quick start guide, 2021.
- Gender equality and mercury and awareness video
Minamata Convention, insight, 2021.
- Promoting gender equality in the implementation of the Convention
Minamata Convention, video of the Minamata Online session, 2021.
- Call for nominations to participate to the consultative process for the preparation of a gender action plan to be submitted for consideration by COP-5
Minamata Convention, notification letter, 2021.
- InforMEA "Mercury and Gender" e-learning course