New publication: Gender and chemicals - Questions, Issues and Possible Entry Points

Minu Hemmati, GenderCC co-founder and Steering Committee member, and Anna Bach have recently published a new paper titled Gender and Chemicals - Questions, Issues and Possible Entry Points.


Although chemicals management has long been a topic of international policy and regulation, and chemicals nowadays undergo extensive assessment procedures, the need to account for sex and gender differences in exposure, susceptibility, and health impacts, and the need for gender analysis has only slowly gained the necessary attention in international processes. The paper aims to provide entry points for consideration; ask useful questions; and provide background for future discussion and engagement with stakeholders.


It begins by discussing the question why gender and chemicals is an issue worth looking at: Firstly, women’s and men’s bodies are affected differently by certain chemicals – exposure, risk, and impacts can be different between the sexes. Secondly, gender, as a social category, is linked to gender-specific norms of behaviour, roles in society as well as the development of 'feminine’ and ‘masculine’ identities, which in turn influence people’s behaviour, including their impact on the environment, their affectedness by environmental degradation, and their access to and power over resources. Thirdly, gender analysis allows to ask questions that help us understand and unpack root causes of unsustainable behaviour and societies, and hence have a transformational potential. 


The publication continues by summarizing some of the existing findings relating to sex and gender in the context of chemicals, aiming to identify entry points for further (gender) analysis. It concludes by looking at relevant international policy processes aiming to identify entry points and opportunities to put forward gender and chemicals issues and advance the integration of gender in chemicals and waste management. In addition, a glossary of terms relating to gender, as easy reference for readers not familiar with gender analysis, is included.


The paper was produced as part of the MSP Institute project "Gender and Chemicals: Issues, Stakeholders, Strategies".


Further information about the project, additional materials (e.g. overview & links of relevant policy processes), and regular updates are available here.


The paper is available for free download here.