In our time, gender equality has reached new heights. Not only men, but women are participating in all walks of life. For very long time agriculture was considered as man’s department. Now things have changed and many women farmers are coming forward to empower themselves but at huge cost of their health.
This feminization of agriculture is more common in developing countries. According to UN reports around 80% of economically empowered women in Africa and 50% of empowered women in Asia belong to the agricultural sector. Due to poor circumstances, more and more women are coming out and participating in agriculture. Lack of resource and deprivation of agricultural knowledge are affecting women in various ways. As a result of globalization, consumer demands have increased, and this has put a huge burden on these women. Pesticides and chemicals that are used in these practices are affecting women’s health at a deeper level.
Cheap pesticides used by these women are generally not tested for health and safety. UN environment program estimates that each year about 20,000 accidentals deaths take place due to pesticides poisoning. And around one million cases of various health diseases occur each year.
Reproductive health of women gets compromised, due to use of such pesticides and fungicides. Various studies have confirmed that increased usage of chemicals increases the risk of stillbirths, miscarriages and delayed difficult pregnancies among women working in agriculture and the wives of male farmers. Children of these women also suffer from congenital disabilities. Organophosphate is a toxic insecticide that increases the risk of premature and spontaneous abortions. Other chemicals like chlordane, aldrin and toxaphene are responsible for the disruption of hormonal cycles.
Empowerment of women in agriculture is extremely admiring, but governments of developing countries and world organizations need to take measures and form regulations to protect the female farmers and helpers. Also, the introduction of agricultural education programs to such females can save them from threatening effects of the pesticides.
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