What would they do if they had a washing machine?


In the developing world laundry is the job of the women of the household, they spend hours washing clothes by hand, this TED TALK by Hans Rosling highlights what women could be doing if they didn’t have to wash clothes by hand.

In the developing world half the population is spending their time completing tasks that in the developed world machines do for us, so how are they meant to develop if half the population is just working day in day out to keep their families alive without moving forward and developing?

What could these women be achieving if they had access to the household machines that we do?


20 thoughts on “What would they do if they had a washing machine?

  1. I remember when my mum did our weekly wash and it took all day standing at a twin tub washing machine waiting for the clothes to be washed by a machine. When my children were growing up the washing machine was used every day, all I needed to do was load the machine and push the button. The time spent washing clothes by hand or even with a twin tub machine would be better spent with your family or improving your life in other ways. What can we do to help, perhaps we could look at the energy we waste!

    • I don’t think many people now in this country can imagine having to wash clothes by hand and people would be very unwilling to give up the leisure time that they have gained as a result of the machine. If people in developing countries had access to these machines it would be amazing to see what they could achieve.

  2. This is such a thought provoking subject. When I was very young, my mother didn’t have a washing machine or a fridge.Once she got these things, she had more free time & eventually she also worked outside the home.She was still working hard but she could now contribute financially as well. She also gained independence, made friends & developed self-worth.Women in developing countries deserve the opportunity to do the same.The “green” question is very pertinent though. Can everyone have the “magic machines” without ruining the world? I couldn’t be without my washing machine so I can’t honestly ask other women, who have so little, to give up hope of owning something I take for granted.

    • I personally feel that “we” as a developed country were allowed to develop without the concerns of the environment we developed as a result of dirty industries. Therefore I think that developing countries should be able to do the same, but I am very aware of the effect this could have on the earth and therefore I think that as developed countries this is our responsibility.

  3. I think that although the time spent doing the washing could be spent doing other stuff, I believe that the time they do spend doing the washing gives them a chance to socialise with other women who are also in the same situation.

    • I do agree with you but would hope that the women would find things to do that they would deem to be more productive or more fun then the labour intensive task of washing clothes by hand.

  4. I think it also depends on the context, for exaple our teacher talked about the problem about the women in africa, they had a well built, but for them walking miles to get water ment spending time with other women and socialise.
    But yeah making lives easier is much more better, but at the end using so much machines will end up ruining the planet.

    • I do agree with you, but i feel the advantages for the women would out way the disadvantages as long as they used their new free time effectively.

  5. try to think in another ways althought they spend hours washing cloth by hand but they saving alot of energy compare to developed country.

    • I agree with you but is it fair not to allow these women a washing machine just to save energy? No one was telling people in developed countries they couldn’t have a washing machine when they were first produced.

  6. This remembers me about a documentary where a couple in Asia could actually afford a washing machine but refused to buy one as a house hold employed woman was simply cheaper. 🙂

    • That sounds like a really interesting documentary, it would be great if you could remember what it was called? Or where it was shown? I do wonder though how much this women was being paid if she was cheaper then a washing machine? Surely over the lifetime of the machine it would work out a lot cheaper if the women was being paid a fair wage?

      • I agree with you the salary might have been quite low maybe even for local standards. I tired to google it up but I’m afraid I haven’t been successful. It was a German documentary, though so you might be possible that you couldn’t access the information anyway. I’m not sure but I think it was about a Singaporean couple. I will give it a second try and will see if I can find out the documentary and if it is on youtube with subtitles or similar.

      • D’oh! How can you edit a comment? I tried to google it up in the last comment not tired to…

  7. I agree that women would have more time if they had such appliances such as a washing machine, and that this may give them the opportunity to work outside of the home. However I aslo feel that when completing the daily task of handwashing this is done with other women in the community and is a form of ‘activity’ that women can do together and gives them an opportunity to socilaise.

    • I do agree with you but feel that they could be doing something else to socialise, they could set up groups where they could all meet up and do something more enriching such as a book club?

  8. That’s an interesting question, nevertheless missing money is still the main problem

  9. Interesting question nevertheless, I think that missing money is still the main issue

  10. This is an interesting question but I think beside time you also mostly need money to make something happen

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