How international bodies address women and chemicals

How international bodies address women and chemicals


Existing gender mainstreaming policies include those highlighted in the Rio Declaration on environment and development [1], the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants [2], the Minamata Convention on Mercury [3], the Dubai Declaration of SAICM [4], the Sustainable Development Goals [5], the GEF policy on gender mainstreaming guidelines and processes [6].

Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls is included in SDG 5 with the following major targets:

5.1: “End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere”

5.5: “Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.”

5a: “Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.”

5c: “Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.”

Information Sources from International Organisations

UNDP Guidelines: Mainstreaming Gender into UNDP-GEF projects on chemicals and waste [7]

OECD gender indicators [8]

UNECE indicators for gender equality [9]

UNDP Gender and Chemicals report [10]

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2012): OECD Guidance Document on Standardised Test Guidelines for Evaluating Chemicals for Endocrine Disruption. Series on Testing and Assessment (ENV/JM/MONO(2012)22). No. 150. OECD: Paris [11]

United Nations Development Programme / UNDP Environment and Energy Group (UNDP) (2011): Chemicals and Gender. Gender Mainstreaming Guidance Series – Chemicals Management. UNDP: New York [12]

United Nations Development Programme / UNDP Environment and Energy Group (UNDP) (2011): Chemicals and Gender. Gender Mainstreaming Guidance Series – Chemicals Management. UNDP: New York [13]

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2007): Chemicals Management: The why and how of mainstreaming gender.

National regulations related to gender and chemicals include:

Regulating Toxics: Sex and Gender in Canada’s Chemicals Management Plan

Assessing and Managing Chemicals under TSCA

References to women in Convention texts

Stockholm Convention

“Aware of the health concerns, especially in developing countries, resulting from local exposure to persistent organic pollutants, in particular impacts upon women and, through them, upon future generations,”

Article 7 (2)
The Parties shall, where appropriate, cooperate directly or through global, regional and subregional organizations, and consult their national stakeholders, including women’s groups and groups involved in the health of children, in order to facilitate the development, implementation and updating of their implementation plans.

Article 10 (1)
(c) Development and implementation, especially for women, children and the least educated, of educational and public awareness programmes on persistent organic pollutants, as well as on their health and environmental effects and on their alternatives;

Minamata Convention

Aware of the health concerns, especially in developing countries, resulting from exposure to mercury of vulnerable populations, especially women, children, and, through them, future generations;

Annex C
(i) Strategies to prevent the exposure of vulnerable populations, particularly children and women of child-bearing age, especially pregnant women, to mercury used in artisanal and small-scale gold mining;


Dubai Declaration
18. We will work towards effective and efficient governance of chemicals management by means of transparency, public participation and accountability involving all sectors of society, in particular striving for the equal participation of women in chemicals management;

OPS Risk Reduction
Risk reduction measures need to be improved to prevent the adverse effects of chemicals on the health of children, pregnant women, fertile populations, the elderly, the poor, workers and other vulnerable groups and susceptible environments

OPS Governance
That in many countries some stakeholders, particularly women and indigenous communities, still do not participate in all aspects of decision-making related to the sound management of chemicals, a situation which needs to be addressed

To promote and support meaningful and active participation by all sectors of civil society, particularly women, workers and indigenous communities, in regulatory and other decision‑making processes that relate to chemical safety

To ensure equal participation of women in decision-making on chemicals policy and management;

Global plan of action
Examples of measures to safeguard the health of women and children are the minimization of chemical exposures before conception and through gestation, infancy, childhood and adolescence

[1]  United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (1992) Rio Declaration on environment and development, 

[2] Stockholm Convention preamble, 

[3] Minamata Convention on Mercury 

[4] UNEP – WHO (2006) Dubai Declaration, para 18, Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management 

[5] United Nations (2015) Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UN General Assembly, A/RES/70/1 


[7] (authored by Olga Speranskaya and Alexandra Caterbow)




[11] (last accessed 2019.01-31).



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Written by Alexandra Caterbow