Training session to raise awareness on pesticide exposure and gender-related impacts in the framework of the project “Smart farming project for the future generation

Hanoi and Moc Chau from 19 to 29 April 2024

Highlights: Women assume important roles throughout agrifood value chains to ensure food security and nutrition at community and household levels. Globally they account for 36 percent of the rural agricultural workforce, rising to considerably higher percentages in low-income countries (FAO, 2023).

The gender distribution of labour in pesticide use and handling varies greatly from country to country, depending on household needs, traditional decision-making patterns and labour availability. Pesticide management decisions tend to be made by household heads, whether male or female. However, in some countries, women are reported to make up 85 percent or more of all pesticide applicators on commercial farms and plantations, often working whilst pregnant or breastfeeding. There is evidence that they make less use of protective equipment and are injured by pesticides more often than men (Women in Europe for a Common Future, 2015).

The use of pesticides can have a range of adverse effects on the environment and can cause severe acute and chronic health problems for both the workers handling them and directly or indirectly for rural families living nearby, including children.

Moreover, limited use of personal protective equipment amongst farmers is widespread due to the scarce understanding of the risks entailed, the lack of availability in certain areas and the costs involved. No segment of the population is fully protected against exposure to pesticides, and certain groups shoulder its serious health effects differently and disproportionally – especially women. Indeed, women's exposure to pesticides is significantly higher than recognized, and cases of poisoning of women are often under-reported and underdiagnosed.

The training will be delivered in the framework of the project “Smart farming project for the future generation (GCP/GLO/071/ROK)” funded by the Republic of Korea. The project supports the transition towards optimized vegetable production systems and this activity of awareness raising aims to reduce the risks posed by hazardous pesticides, with a gender lens. Over the past years, the project offered support in reducing pesticide usage, introducing measures such as insect-proof netting, isolation areas, and providing regular technical assistance, training on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) expertise.

Sensitization activities will be run in participation with the Institute of Research on Fruits and Vegetables (FAVRI), and the Department of Plant protection of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam.

Organizers: The FAO Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention in the Plant Production and Protection Division (NSP), the Gender Team in the Rural Transformation and Gender Equality Division (ESP), the Rural and Urban Crop and Mechanization Systems (NSPLD) and the FAO Office in Viet Nam.

Working language: English and Vietnamese

Meeting objectives:

  1. Increase awareness and support of adoption of safe pesticide handling practices in Vietnam's protected vegetable cultivation systems;
  2. Provide tailored training and increase the technical capacity of national authorities on gender issues and pesticide exposure;
  3. Deliver sensitization activities in rural communities on gender issues and pesticide management applying a new capacity development tool (role play “Acting against risks”) where farmers enact characters in two different scenarios (a farm and a market) and discuss and analyse the risks;
  4. Raise awareness on the risks posed by hazardous pesticides with a gender lens and promote sharing of experiences among farmers;
  5. Discuss with the Designated National Authorities of the Rotterdam Convention for Viet Nam the status of implementation and the needed support to progress.


  1. Enhanced national capacity to address gender issues in pesticide management;
  2. Received an overview of exposure scenarios and unsafe practices commonly adopted by farmers, particularly women, and explore possible actions for safety and prevention in Vietnam.
  3. Identified possible actions, intentional or unintentional, that might enhance the risk to hazardous pesticide exposure;
  4. Awareness raised on the risks of pesticide exposure and the impact on farmers ‘health during different agricultural tasks;
  5. Discussed and highlighted gender-related impacts of pesticide handling and management.
  6. Shared information about IPM and raised awareness about them.

Contact Information

Nadia Correale: