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 Action Plan

The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-5) adopted decision MC-5/15 which welcomed the gender action plan for the Minamata Convention on Mercury and invited Parties and the Secretariat to implement priority activities under the gender action plan as integrated in the Programme of Work and Budget for the biennium 2024-2025. Its list of priority activities builds on existing commitments embedded in the text of the Minamata Convention and on recent initiatives of the Secretariat and Parties to integrate gender considerations into their work. The development of the gender action plan was requested by the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in decision MC-4/10. Pursuant to decision MC-4/10, the Secretariat organized online consultations for Parties and other stakeholders between September and November 2022 to receive input on a draft gender action plan, which was prepared by the Secretariat thanks to the generous financial support of Sweden. A call for nominations to participate in this consultative process was issued by the Secretariat on 12 August 2022.

Gender activities carried out by the Secretariat

Since 2020 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 information submitted 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. An article titled "A gender perspective on artisanal and small-scale gold mining under the Minamata Convention on Mercury" was also published in the fourth edition of the UNEP-OHCHR Bulleting (October 2022). 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).

Two sessions on gender were organized by the Secretariat as part of the Minamata Online series: Promoting gender equality in the implementation of the Convention (8 March 2022) and Mainstreaming gender in capacity-building projects: practical approaches (7 March 2024).

Principles of gender equality are also embedded in the current Programme of Work of the Minamata Convention, including through the support delivered through its financial mechanism. The Secretariat released a story to show how projects under one of the components of the financial mechanism, the Specific International Programme, are taking full account of gender considerations.

Gender focal point

Lara Ognibene, Legal Officer and gender focal point within the Secretariat, 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 her at lara.ognibene [at]