Femtech is a phrase that was coined in 2016 to describe the use of technology to create software or hardware products, tools, and other applications that are primarily focused on women’s health. Fertility solutions, period tracking apps, pregnancy, and nursing care apps, women’s sexual wellness apps, reproductive system health care apps, menopause care apps, and mental health care apps are among Femtech’s offerings.
Femetch businesses arose as a result of women’s lack of access to adequate healthcare. Despite the fact that gender equality is considered a social norm in most industrialized countries, this is not the situation in the rest of the world. Gender bias in medicine is still prevalent in many nations throughout the world, which is one of the reasons why women’s health issues have remained underserved despite the rise of digital health.
There are various reasons why women’s health issues are underserved in the setting of Southeast Asia. For starters, most nations in Southeast Asia lack formal or organized sexual education for women, which can lead to a lot of misunderstandings and impede women from learning about and seeking better care for their bodies. Second, in Southeast Asia, openly discussing sexual well-being and infertility difficulties is still frowned upon. Third, while “feeling clean” about women’s bodies is still deeply established in the social norm in Southeast Asia, there is still a stigma associated with having vaginal illnesses.
While the pandemic has boosted health tech, a subcategory of femtech has begun to boom in the last year. According to PitchBook Data, the number of femtech startups globally climbed from 221 in 2019 to 318 in 2020, and the femtech industry earned $820.6 million in global revenue in 2019 and received $592 million in venture capital investment. The majority of femtech startups, however, are based in North America and Europe, with only a few from other regions of the globe. For example, Southeast Asia will have only 41 femtech enterprises in 2021, a small percentage of the 318 global femtech companies in 2020.
In comparison to the West, South-East Asia continues to house roughly half of the world’s poorest people. According to a 2018 World Bank research, South Asia accounts for roughly 33% of the 783 million severely poor people living below the poverty line of US$1.9 per day, while East Asia and the Pacific account for 9%. These are persons who have little or no access to healthcare due to a lack of economic prospects. The situation is significantly worse for women in this group, who are constantly tethered to the ground by money-making jobs, house chores, and child care. Femtech offers a lot of potential for improving the lives and health of women in this category.
Despite its dire need for femtech, Southeast Asia’s progress in this field lags behind that of the West. When developing femtech products or services in Southeast Asia, entrepreneurs must examine the population’s prominent characteristics as well as the region’s present femtech development scenario in order to better serve the region’s underserved women.