In order to put gender equality into practice, innovative time- and labour-saving technologies can be deployed to reduce the uneven burden of domestic and care work on women. Moreover, progressive businesses must also take the lead in developing cultures, policies, and even advertising that break down gender norms leading to these disparate time burdens.


Women everywhere have a triple work burden in the productive, reproductive, and social spheres. In developing countries alone, women spend 100 million hours a day just carrying water. Women around the world spend 1 to 3 hours more per day on housework than men, and 2 to 10 times more caring for children, the elderly, and the sick. Unequal division of domestic and care work has significant negative impacts on girls and women. Indeed, if women’s participation in the formal economy were equal to that of men’s, an estimated 28 trillion USD would be added to global GDP.
The way to bring about more equality in the distribution of formal and informal work is to redistribute work and gender roles. There is an opportunity space for business to innovate products and services to reduce time on domestic and care work and to challenge gender roles and stereotypes.

For businesses, the need to reduce time on household chores and care work, specifically for women, carries with it an array of opportunities to innovate. Labour-saving technologies can contribute to freeing up time spent on domestic and care work in developing as well as developed countries.

It is products such as clean energy cookstoves, which do not require the use of firewood, and therefore save users time by avoiding wood collection, in India alone women spend 374 hours each year collecting firewood . Also products such as backpacks for carrying water ; and robotic floor cleaners that mop, sweep, or vacuum without supervision can all help alleviate the time burden of housework.

Solutions to reduce the time spend on care work is also part of this opportunity space. It is for instance low-cost childcare, which enables women to enter the labour market. Frontrunners are testing new kindergarten concepts that offer take-away healthy meals, offering breakfast to parents and children in a kindergarten café open 24 hours a day.
In marketing these products, business can play a role in challenging gender stereotypes. Just 2 percent of advertisements related to domestic and care work show men cleaning, doing the laundry, or taking care of children.

Several companies have had success branding their products in ways that challenge gender norms in recent years. One is Pantene working to actively challenge the labels and double standards that are holding women back.

The smart appliances market is estimated to reach 37.2 billion USD by 2020, at a CAGR of 15.4 percent between 2015 and 2020. An important demand driver is the rise in women’s labour market participation. Women’s presence in the U.S. labour force, for instance, has increased dramatically, from 30.3 million in 1970 to 72.7 million during 2006-2010.

Key Numbers


would be added to the global GDP if women participate in the formal economy


of advertisements related
to housework show men cleaning, doing the laundry, or taking care of children


hours are spent by women every day to collect water


SDGs - Gender equality - it's about time

Solutions for this Opportunity

Smart Tractors Boosts Productivity

Smart Tractors Boosts Smallholder Farmers Productivity Hello Tractor – a network of “Smart Tractor” owners that farmers obtain service from via SMS, giving small landowners access to affordable farm machine services.
Location: Nigeria See this solution

Gender Neutral Advertisement

In the “Dishes” advertisement for dishwater detergent, Finish UK employs gender-neutral situations where both men and women participate in household chores.
Location: Global See this solution

Intelligent Robotic Floor Cleaners

Intelligent Robotic Floor Cleaners – A robotic floor cleaners that mop, sweep or vacuum without supervision can all help alleviate the time burden of housework.
Location: Europe and USA See this solution

Cooking Fuel Made from Agricultural Waste

GreenChar is a social enterprise that provides affordable, high energy cooking solutions to transform the Kenyan cooking environment and save lives, money, and time.
Location: KenyaSee this solution

Solar-Powered Water Purification

Desolenator offers a small, solar-driven water desalination device that provides 15 litres of water, meeting the daily needs of a family.
Location: China, India and Kenya See this solution

Clean Energy Products for Households

Frontier Markets provides rural villagers in India with access to clean-energy products such as solar lights, including servicing and training. Solar lights offer safety from kerosene fumes and fires.
Location: India See this solution

Water Powered Solar Panel Rotator

The SunSaluter enables a solar panel to follow the sun throughout the day, boosting efficiency by 30% and producing four litres of clean drinking water.
Location: Global See this solution

Confronting Equal Distribution of Household Chores

Ariel India, Procter & Gamble and BBDO Worldwide created an ad for Laundry Detergent depicting how the uneven distribution of chores in the home can have a negative long term impact on gender roles.
Location: Global See this solution



Although this opportunity only comes in as number 10 on the global opportunity ranking, the survey reveals respondents in South East Asia & Australia, and Europe are significantly more positive towards the potential benefits of developing time-saving measures to promote gender equality than other regions, with Europe rating it 3rd and South-East Asia rating it 4th on the overall ranking.

Capacity to Grow the Market

The political capacity to grow the market is perceived to be substantial in Europe, South East Asia & Australia. This could be an indication gender equality is particularly high on the agenda in these regions. Meanwhile, respondents in South East Asia, India, and China exhibit an above-average confidence in the technological and economic capacity to pursue this opportunity.

Opportunity Business Case

While the opportunity is not among those perceived to provide the most benefits to society, it represents one of the markets perceived to have a strong business case. It is ranked the 3rd most likely opportunity to be pursued by business, yet its positive impacts on society are not seen as significant. This is the only opportunity exhibiting such a large difference between these two variables. This disparity could signal that respondents believe the market is quite niche, with a more narrow impact on society.

The business case is perceived to be particularly strong by leaders in Europe, South East Asia & Australia followed closely by leaders in the North American market.

Sector Impact

Looking at the sector perspective, it is clear the governmental sector and the service industry see the greatest benefits in pursuing this opportunity.

In Sub Saharan Africa, civil society is expected to advocate most strongly for this opportunity and in Europe the public sector will likely advocate for it most strongly.


Perceived benefits from pursuing this opportunity (x), and capacity to do so (y), World and geographic regions. Scale goes from -10 to +10.



Across geographic regions. Scale goes from -10 to +10.


Across business sectors regions. Scale goes from -10 to +10.

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