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WITH COVID-19, HOUSEHOLD CHORE BURDEN WORSENS GLOBALLY

  • April 6, 2020
  • HobyClean Customer Service

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“…with COVID-19, except an online, on demand laundry technology solution is introduced that disrupts and revolutionizes the current laundry practice and that transitions the traditional laundry sector from “Bricks to Click” , women shall still remain largely trapped in the seemingly relegated, oppressive, invisible, repetitive, exhausting, unproductive, uncreative and largely unpaid world of household chores (86% of women in Uganda) … occupying an average of 4,000 hours of their lives; an equivalence of 11 calendar years … with laundry inhabiting the biggest share at 68%, having dissipating effects on the family structure, society and the world of work with untold burdens during this period”.

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Following the unprecedented spread across the world and its effects on humanity, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic. At present, more than 100 countries have some kind of lockdown measures in place and about 900 million children are forced to stay home. The burden of household chores are increasing as more and more people stay home and are required to look after younger and older family members in addition to the sick. With women playing traditional caregiving roles, its is logical to estimate that more and more of these chores will fall to women and for the most part, has remain a burden and often oppressive.

I have always wondered about this. It seems, as long as the human race has existed, housework or household chores has remained an often oppressive, “Invisible, repetitive, exhausting, unproductive, and uncreative”[1] part of the family endeavors so frequently relegated to women or housewives, but yet occupying an average of 4,000 hours of their lives; an equivalence of 11 calendar years. Though the debate in many societies about the roles of women and men in household chores have shifted over the centuries represented by different dynamics and statistics, it’s clear that the burden has only remained consistent while increasingly impacting the stability of households and the family system, and most times leading to the fracture of the family structure with dissipating effects on society. This is with almost no solution in sight despite the increasing societal transformation and the role of women in the world of work.

According to Statista analysis, the variance in the participation of women and men in household chores across 10 selected European Countries (Sweden, Denmark, UK, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, and Hungary) reflect only 34% average men participation rate in household chores. The 2007 GALLUP POOL in the United States points out that men are generally more responsible for family vehicle maintenance (69%) and yard work (57%), while laundry occupies the biggest household chores of women at 68%, followed by house cleaning at 61%, preparing meals at 58% and grocery shopping at 53% respectively.

This points to the fact that despite the increasing roles shift between men and women in household chores in recent years, women are still largely trapped in this relegated, oppressive, invisible, repetitive, exhausting, unproductive, uncreative and unpaid world of household chores. Within this state of entrapment, it would seem the role of women in laundry as a household chore has remained the most unchanged and the most HATED, yes, I said hated, of all household chores despite the level of technological advances that have accompanied this sector over the last few decades.

I can only imagine the degree of the very intrinsic hatred for laundry as a chore, housewives and the working class carry and especially during the period of COVID-19. Perhaps this hatred is rooted in the unavoidable nature of the chore as compared to other household chores, or perhaps the time commitment required to complete the chores that people increasingly do not have with huge consequences on the level of integration of women in the global work force, or perhaps the increasing utility cost, including power, water and labor that is associated with getting this chores done using household equipment or outsourcing it to a maid. No matter the cause of the hatred, if only this problem could vanish with a more permanent, cost effective and efficient solution in sight, women, families and perhaps the working class would have more time to profession, themselves, the families and their friends; or with COVID-19, people can concentrate on lifesaving measures and more social activities to keep fit and connected.

This is not to say that the industry has not been impacted sufficiently by the wave of technological advancements that have shifted the world of work over the last 5 decades. The advancements in the industry have shifted with time. As you may know, the art of washing is just as old as the human race itself and was previously associated with the “river bank” and the “rock pavement” where clothes were bashed in an attempt to remove the dirt from the fabrics. It often occurred in communal settings. While this practice still exists today largely in remote locations around the world, the introduction of the “Washboard” in the middle ages kind of gradually personalized the art to the backyards while at the same time keeping it closer to natural water bodies including rivers, streams and creeks. But the practice became truly personalized with the introduction of the “Borehole” water well used to tap onto the natural ground water level when wealthy families could concentrate the art mostly at home. With the industrial revolution came the steam engines that ushered in the age of the washing machines and the commercialization of the art throughout the early and mid-20th century.

With the advent of modern technology, especially over the last 3 decades, the industry has seen streaming innovations that are transforming the way laundry is done both at home and in the commercial sector. For instance, the washing machines have eased the washing and drying process both for home and commercial use. The coin operated commercial laundry business model increased accountability in the sector, the credit card and the vending card system increased the payment modalities for commercial services. The web-based management platforms enable the tracking of customer-based transactions in real time and grant access to the business operation remotely from anywhere and anytime.

However the level of technological advancements discussed above, perhaps the most effective and most cutting edge breakthrough technology recently introduced that has the propensity to transform the sector and reduce the household burden giving women chance especially during the period of the COVID-19 is the online, on demand laundry service enable through the web or mobile app (android and iOS) bringing immense benefits to the industry including laundromats, families and businesses. One of such global online, on demand laundry platforms is the www.hobyclean.com with its mobile app (android and iOS) that ensures opened and monthly family and business subscription packages, free pick-up and delivery options direct to the customers door encouraging social distancing, cost-effectiveness (economies of scale), high efficiency gains while addressing the associated risks of COVID-19 while handling the laundry home.


[1] Angela Davis http://aidc.org.za/approaching-obsolescence-housework-working-class-perspective/

[2] by Patricia Houle, Martin Turcotte and Michael Wendt; Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division; 1 June 2017

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