Ladies, brace yourselves for a startling revelation courtesy of the Vatican newspaper.

In an article to mark international Women’s Day last Sunday, l’Osservatore Romano published an article suggesting that the washing machine may have done more to liberate women in the 20th century than the pill or the right to work.

The submission was made in a lengthy article titled The Washing Machine and the Liberation of Women - Put in the Detergent, Close the Lid and Relax.

The article, which was written by a woman, asks what in the 20th century did more to liberate Western women before putting forward its suggestion.

‘The debate is heated. Some say the pill, some say abortion rights and some the right to work outside the home,’ it reads.

‘Some, however, dare to go further: the washing machine.’

The piece then goes on to talk about the history of washing machines, starting with a rudimentary model in 1767 in Germany and ending up with today's trendy launderettes where a woman can have a cappuccino with friends while the tumbler turns.