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Occupational health being a key component of public health promotion activities affects a substantial part of the population of the 25 Member States of the EU. Work related ill health is a problem of wide dimension and of significant implications for the health of working European citizens, documented sufficiently in many studies and receiving serious political attention as this is reflected in the growing body of EU legislation.

As a result, there is a unanimously recognized need for health promoting and preventive actions and measures at the workplace; in a comprehensive approach that targets the system, the enterprise and the individual.

Gender issues in that perspective are of utmost importance, due to the presence of major differences in the way work affects the health of men and women according to their working role.

According to recent reports “work-related risks to women’s safety and health have probably been underestimated and neglected compared to men’s” (Gender Issues in Health and Safety at Work”, 2003, European Agency for Health and Safety at work). Various risk factors in women’s work and their interactions have been insufficiently examined and have received less attention in risk-assessment and preventive activities. Apart from specific needs within the occupational setting, women are also affecting the health habits of the whole family (e.g. dietary and hygiene habits), therefore awareness-raising and prevention activities specifically targeting women are a fundamental factor in health promotion of the whole population.

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