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Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine (IBME)

Dissertation Najd Alfawzan

«FemTech Ethics – An Empirical and Normative Analysis of FemTech and Women’s mHealth Apps»


FemTech (female technology) is a growing market with a large user base globally. The investments in FemTech are huge. Collecting women’s health data is important for closing the gender health gap. However, as women have been subject to historical sociocultural oppression and surveillance, legal
consequences might follow women who provide their data to FemTech companies. The primary thesis of this work is that an ethical perspective and grounding are critical for the analysis of FemTech, because technology is inextricably linked to morality, norms, and the sociocultural context in which it
acts. FemTech is distinct from other types of technology and markets in that it emerged from these circumstances and has a significant impact on users within their social contexts. In my thesis, I focused on the ethical concerns in data privacy, sharing, and security by studying the privacy policies and consent practices of FemTech companies, particularly in the context of women’s mHealth
apps. Data privacy and protection have been introduced as fundamental human rights. Notably, the women’s health data collected by FemTech is considered to be intimate, sensitive, and private data. Moreover, some women’s mHealth apps collect not only women’s sensitive data, but also data of their children and infants. This layer of complexity introduced by including children's data let me
investigate in depth the practices of apps that collect children’s data and the related ethical and legal concerns. In short, the collection of women’s personal and health data could have negative consequences on women in certain legal and social systems of the world. The worldwide nature of the services provided by FemTech companies presents challenges in complying with the many regulations and laws that exist in different nations. Data protection and privacy legislation, for example, can differ widely from country to country. Furthermore, the sensitivity of women's health issues can differ depending on local cultural or religious considerations, with possible repercussions for national laws,
particularly when it comes to sexual orientation and reproduction. In some cases, the data collected could even become evidence in criminal proceedings. Therefore, the handling of women’s intimate data must be approached with sensitivity to protect women's privacy rights.