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Women's Caucus presented its message to Ministers of Environment present in Bali

Today the Women's Caucus presented its message to the Ministers of Environment present at this years UNEP Governing Council and Global Ministers for the Environment Forum in Bali, Indonesia, February 23-26 2010

22.02.2010 |WECF Press Release

Today the Women's Caucus presented its message to the Ministers of Environment present at this years UNEP Governing Council and Global Ministers for the Environment Forum, which takes place in Bali Indonesia from 23 till 26 of February 2010. The Women's caucus, together with another 140 representatives from the 9 major groups (women, youth, farmers, science, indigenous peoples, trade unions, business&industry, local authorities and NGOs), worked during 2 days in the 11th UNEP Major Group and Stakeholder Forum to prepare their input to the minister's meetings.

Women's messages

Women’s knowledge, including traditional knowledge, on biodiversity conservation, should be protected, documented and retained in the hands of the rightful custodians. Such knowledge should be respected and therefore not be exploited and patented by multinational corporations. The right to livelihoods, particularly for indigenous communities, are intertwined with ecosystems. As such indigenous rights to customary land, their resources and IP knowledge needs to be recognised and guaranteed by national and international regulations.
Green economy
We call on UNEP and its partners in the process of developing Green Economy strategies and guidelines to ensure that the principles and criteria which will be developed will consider the protection of women’s rights including the right to safe and decent jobs, avoidance of all forms of discrimination and equal opportunities in benefiting from the Green Economy.
Women and children are especially vulnerable to risks associated with harmful chemicals due to their different biological make-up. In many cases, women are employed for dangerous jobs such as pesticide sprayers and many chemicals which they are exposed to are persistent, bio-accumulative, carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic and are endocrine disrupters. As women are the first environment for their child, toxic contaminants will be passed to their children during pregnancy and lactation. Women’s right to a healthy living and working environment must be ensured.
Women should be given non-chemical alternatives in their work and daily lives. Non-chemical pest and disease management exists, however, too little is known or are made known, and therefore should receive more research funding and outcomes made available to farmers.
Governments should inform all users of pesticides of the health risks, in particular risks to women. Existing legislation on pesticide and biocides needs to be strengthened, to reflect the long term damage to human health – specifically women’s reproductive health - and the environment, ultimately, leading to a substitution of all hazardous chemicals. Governments should adhere to the FAO code of conduct on the distribution and use of chemicals.
We call on governments to provide financial and institutional support so that the Bamako Convention on the ban on the import into Africa and the Control of Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within Africa, can become operational.
Chemical convention synergies
The women major group is very concerned that an issue of such great importance to the health of the environment and future generations, as well as that of safe chemical management, is not receiving heightened political attention it deserves from governments, as illustrated a.o. by the lack of funding of the 3 chemical Conventions. We support in principle the synergy process of the 3 conventions, but are concerned that there is a possibility of a downward harmonization in terms of practices. In addition, we are concerned that civil society, as an important stakeholder, is not directly involved in the consultation and review process.
We therefore call on governments to:
  • provide additional funding for the chemical conventions
  • strengthen the conventions through stronger compliance and voting mechanisms work on the life-cycle concept of chemical management
  • include civil society in all stages of the review process
  • promote non-chemical substitution
We ask the secretariats of the 3 Conventions to assure that in the planned, common, clearance house, the specific health effects on women workers and the community will be considered.
We call on the chemical and agricultural industries, as they are at the root of much of the economic costs caused by chemical pollution:-

  • to agree on a global fund for chemical and waste clean up measures, under the umbrella of the UN system, and
  • to proactively seek cradle to cradle life-cycle approaches in chemical management and product design
WECF Executive Director, Sascha Gabizon, was a panellist at the UNEP GMGSF on Monday 22nd of February 2010, and presented the work of the WECF network on creating green jobs with community-based renewable energy projects.

WECF will organise 2 side-events during the UNEP Governing Council meeting on 23 and 24 of February 2010 in the "Green Room", addressing environmental health and the harm from continuous use of chrysotile asbestos and harmful substances in products for children. See for more information our work on asbestos.

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