Head of Marketing, SG Analytics
The 21st-century working women face a unique challenge — being value-adding employees at their workplace and efficient homemakers after working hours. However, factors like extended work hours and the lack of social support make their everyday lives stressful, making them vulnerable to varied lifestyle diseases.
While women's hygiene issues have always been a taboo, significant headway has been made over the years. With constant discussions around such issues in public domain, women's health has finally begun to get the focus and spotlight it deserves.
Technology is disrupting the barriers to information and accessibility. It is assisting in making women's health a mass movement by placing the agency in the hands of women. With opportunities in women's healthcare accelerating, femtech innovations are helping to match the capital and talent. Research has highlighted that gender-focused and femtech investing in India is projected to grow 1.6x from $288 billion in 2020 to $462 billion by 2030.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, gender equality in India experienced a significant drop, magnifying the pre-existing gender pay gap of 35% vis-à-vis men (the gender pay gap is 17% globally).
The Emerging Scope of FemTech Market
Technology is enriching women’s everyday lives with meaningful advances across every possible area in the femtech sector. From spreading awareness around health-related problems through articles to providing apps that assist in detecting the risk or tracking a condition, femtech is revolutionizing the way women's health issues are perceived.
Femtech holds massive potential and is considered a great enabler of equality across women's healthcare. It refers to diagnostic devices, products, solutions, wearables, and software that integrate innovative tech, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to address women's health issues such as menstrual health, sexual health, reproductive health, and menopause.
The vision of femtech apps is to offer smart personal assistants to women and help them in tracking vital menstrual data. The products also provide accurate predictions and insights, thus connecting them directly to healthcare providers for guidance and managing their overall well-being.
Femtech organizations also provide solutions that encompass general health conditions affecting women more than men. Considered to be a $22 billion industry, femtech is disrupting the healthcare sector in many ways. Globally, it encircles virtual clinics to facilitate direct-to-consumer prescription delivery services and everything in between. The aim of femtech is to identify unaddressed problems in this category and resolve them with effective solutions.
Apart from investing in products and services that exclusively cater to the health and wellness of the female population, it is equally important for startups and established organizations to invest a great deal in conversations around issues that are considered a taboo. It is vital to create a safe space as well as communities where one can engage in conversations concerning these products and services.
Empowerment and Inspiration in FemTech
A new female health technology market, or simply femtech, is the use of a combination of science and advanced tech to introduce services, software, and products to address various health and wellness requirements of women.
Today, the application of AI in femtech can be witnessed across multiple verticals ranging from prevention and diagnosis to treatment of multiple health conditions. For example, many period-tracking apps integrate AI to predict a woman's menstrual cycle.
In the past few years, tracking apps have gained traction, with periods, ovulation, and pregnancy-tracking software leading the pack. The women’s health app market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.45% from the year 2022 to 2030 globally.
There has also been a rise in tracking apps for menopause along with general and mental health and female disease management. New additions like fertility and period tracking are set to grow to deliver sensitive care. These solutions enable women to take charge of their health and understand their bodies throughout different phases of life. The biggest advantage of tracking apps is that they allow women to spot irregularities and identify health-related concerns before they become high-risk.
However, the trend to look forward to involves the use of AI for diagnosis as well as treatment of cervical and breast cancers. Multiple startups are innovating to help women diagnose these conditions earlier and faster. With an increased awareness among women, there is a rise in demand for early detection of health conditions through AI-based digital solutions.
How FemTech Is Fostering Healthcare Equality?
While many women often face problems related to menstruation, pregnancy, and sex, not everyone can speak to an expert when they experience discomfort. The female health technology market is experiencing a positive change with femtech founders enabling several women to take charge of their bodies and health as well as initiate conversations.
Many upcoming startups are working to facilitate better access to a majority of women to seek help on taboo health matters that were earlier, often ignored. Affordability and accessibility have always been deterrents to women's health. Today, femtech holds the potential to address these significant challenges successfully. Femtech is competent to democratize health for women and this transition is set to have a lasting impact on the current generation as well as the future generations of women. Autonomy offered by femtech is enabling an average woman to seek help without worrying about family or societal pressures.
The Indian femtech sector is also witnessing several entrepreneurs bringing innovations in the diagnostics and doctor consultations space. Online pharma startups are delivering online medicines and doctor consultations. Sairee Chahal, CEO & Founder of SHEROES and Mahila Money, stated that India's accelerated internet economy is emerging as a great opportunity for gender equality. But it is important to build safe and scalable online communities with women entrepreneurs at the heart of the ecosystem. By investing in more women entrepreneurs in India, we will be able to build a strong foundation. However, the sector is yet to develop and evolve to its full potential in India.
But with an increase in research and development in areas like menstrual health, menopause, period tracking apps, sexual wellness, and mental health, many new startups are presenting solutions and witnessing more growth. Sushma Kaushik, Partner at the Aavishkaar Capital, believes that for a country like India, it is impossible to ignore the 50% of the population that is critical in the making of a USD 5 trillion-dollar Indian Impact Economy.
Femtech is used for a distinctive category of products and services that integrate technology to focus on as well as enhance women's health.
Investments in femtech startups have been growing in the past few years. A $22 billion industry, femtech innovations are disrupting the healthcare sector in several ways.
The women’s health app market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.45% from the year 2022 to 2030 globally.
To Sum Up
Women's healthcare needs have been long ignored, but that trend is now changing. The femtech industry is set to revolutionize the way the world looks at what a woman needs. It also sheds light on how much work needs to be undertaken. There is an increase in research and development in areas including menstrual health, period-tracking apps, menopause, sexual wellness, and mental health.
With scenarios changing and evolving at a faster pace than earlier, things are looking up. Some of the resilient changes comprise Apple including a period-tracking feature to its health app on iPhones and sanitary napkin brands using red instead of blue liquid to depict blood in their promotion campaigns.
The femtech market is projected to grow to $60.01 billion globally by the year 2027 from $18.75 billion in 2019. And this will only happen when more players enter the femtech market. With new opportunities on the rise to solve the underlying crisis, the femtech market is expected to witness more growth.
While femtech investing is good news for India, the total revenues are projected to grow 1.6x from $288 billion in 2020 to $462 billion by the year 2030. The industry is finally emerging from the shadows, and in years to come, women's wellness will not be far from the spotlight. Yet, there is a long way ahead and only with all the right steps — problem-solving, innovating, and more, — can women’s lives globally be made better, healthier, and safer.