According to the Vatican the washing machine has done more for women’s liberation than the contraceptive pill or being allowed to go to work without having to ask for their husband's permission.
(This is according to a recent article in recognition of International Women's Day in the official Vatican newspaper, Osservatore Romano. The article is entitled, “The washing machine and the emancipation of women: put in the powder, close the lid and relax”.
The title of the article is taken from the Washy Talky, a bilingual-talking washing-machine, which was launched in India seven years ago. It guides the user of the washing machine through the complete wash process by voice instructions in English and Hindi.
As for women's liberation, there's one thing it definitely wasn't driven by - the church.)