In January 2013, government officials from around the world agreed on the text of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Last week, the convention was presented for adoption and opened for signature at the Diplomatic Conference for the Minamata Convention on Mercury, in Kumamoto, Japan.
2009 Goldman Prize winner Yuyun Ismawati, together with international NGOs IPEN and Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), hosted a high-level side event at the conference, focusing on women’s exposure to mercury in artisanal small scale gold mines (ASGM).
Mercury is used in the refining process at small scale gold mines. It releases highly toxic fumes when burned and contaminates soil and water resources around mining sites. Women and children who work in ASGM are particularly vulnerable to mercury poisoning because they are responsible for tasks like pouring, mixing and burning mercury.
The event Ismawati collaborated on, “Women and Mercury in ASGM: Impacts on Women’s Health and that of Future Generations,” focused on how a successful and meaningful mercury treaty will reduce mercury exposure to women, children and future generations.
Ismawati was awarded the Goldman Prize in 2009 for her work to implement sustainable community-based waste and sanitation management programs in Indonesia that provide employment opportunities to low-income people and empower them to improve the environment. Today, her work to protect Indonesia’s human and environmental health continues as she endeavors to raise global awareness about the dangers of mercury.