21st-century working women are faced with a unique challenge. They have to double up as value-adding employees at their workplace during the day and efficient home-makers after office hours. Factors such as extended work hours and the lack of social support have made their lives extremely stressful and result in women falling victim to various lifestyle diseases.
Women’s hygiene issues in India have traditionally been considered a taboo subject. Although there has been a significant improvement over the years, a constant reluctance to discuss these issues in public domains continues to hurt the overall state of women healthcare in India.
Technology has enriched our lives with meaningful advances across every possible sector. It is no surprise that a woman’s health and wellness has received its fair share of attention as well. A lot of women today use health-related apps like menstruation trackers, ovulation and pregnancy trackers, etc.
All these apps come under the gambit of Fem-Tech or Female Technology. Fem-tech (Female technology) is a term used for a specific category of software, diagnostics, products, and services that use technology to focus on and improve women’s health.
What Problems Are Fem-Techs Solving?
In most homes, the woman is the primary healthcare decision-maker for her family and they take care of most of the household healthcare spending. Thus, they are more likely to use digital tools for healthcare needs in comparison to men.
Sensing an opportunity in the unexplored market, many startups are increasingly honing their focus on women-related health issues. Investors have shown confidence in fem-tech start-ups with investments in fem-tech startups around $123 Mn funding in 2019.
Feminine healthcare is slowly moving into the mainstream, with fem-techs leading the transformation in the dynamics of woman healthcare in India, while triggering conversations around Indian women-related health issues that were earlier considered taboo.
Today, we have technology that can help women detect early signs of diseases like PCOS, diabetes, infertility, breast cancer, cardiovascular diseases, etc. Thanks to technological advancements, women are much more informed about their health issues and how to manage them effectively.
From spreading awareness about health-related issues through health articles to providing applications to detect risk or track a condition, fem-techs have revolutionised the way women-related health issues were traditionally seen.
Future Of Indian Fem-Techs
Most fem-tech applications focus on the preventive healthcare journey of women and their existing overall health issues. A large part of women-centric startups in India has focused on disease detection, menstruation, and hygiene issues.
There are still many issues, such as pre- and post-natal care, depression, pregnancy care, and menopause which need to be addressed and handled through innovative solutions. This includes reproductive and maternal health, general and mental health and chronic diseases.
The vision should be for fem-tech apps to be smart personal assistants for women and help in tracking vital menstrual data, giving accurate predictions and insights and connecting them to an in-house doctor for guidance through live online chat and managing their overall well-being.
While innovation will be a constant process, a more pressing matter would be that such innovation needs to spread beyond the urban areas. World Bank estimates the contribution of women to India’s GDP is a mere 17% which is starkly below the world average.
Most Indian girls drop-out early from the education system due to lack of toilet facilities, availability of sanitary napkins at schools and other education around hygiene and health issues. To increase female participation in the Indian economy, awareness of female healthcare is required in rural areas.
Fem-techs make an impact by helping women understand their bodies, connect with a larger community and speak about their health. A particularly important aspect of running a business for companies in this space would be maintaining privacy and accuracy at competent prices.
Companies and investors are realising the potential of this sector with a recent Frost & Sullivan’s report stating that the global fem-tech industry could reach $50 Bn value in the next 5 years. The year 2020 promises to be an inflection point for fem-tech firms as discussions around menstruation, hygiene, infertility, breast cancer, and overall women health and wellbeing are finally getting the attention that they deserve.