Girls between five and 14 years old spend 40 percent more time, or 160 million more hours a day, on unpaid household chores and collecting water and firewood compared to boys their age, according to a report released by UNICEF ahead of International Day of the Girl observed yesterday, 11 October.
A release from UNICEF said Harnessing the Power of Data for Girls: Taking stock and looking ahead to 2030, includes the first global estimates on the time girls spend doing household chores such as cooking, cleaning, caring for family members and collecting water and firewood.
The data shows that the disproportionate burden of domestic work begins early, with girls between five and nine years old spending 30 percent more time, or 40 million more hours a day, on household chores than boys their age.
The numbers rise as girls get older, with 10 to 14 year olds spending 50 percent more time, or 120 million more hours each day.
“The overburden of unpaid household work begins in early childhood and intensifies as girls reach adolescence,” said UNICEF’s Principal Gender Advisor Anju Malhotra.
“As a result, girls sacrifice important opportunities to learn, grow, and just enjoy their childhood. This unequal distribution of labour among children also perpetuates gender stereotypes and the double-burden on women and girls across generations,” the release said.
The report said girls’ work is less visible and often undervalued. Too often adult responsibilities such as caring for family members, including other children, are imposed on girls. Time spent on chores limits a girl’s time to play, socialize with friends, study and be a child. In some countries, collecting firewood and water puts girls at risk of sexual violence.
The report also found that girls between 10 and 14 years old in South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa spend nearly double the amount of time on household chores compared to boys.
Also, the countries where girls between 10 and 14 years old bear the most disproportionate burden of household chores compared to boys are; Burkina Faso, Yemen and Somalia. For example, the release said 10 to 14 year-old girls in Somalia spend the most amount of time on household chores in total: 26 hours every week.
“Quantifying the challenges girls face is the first critical step towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on gender equality and breaking-down barriers that confront the world’s 1.1 billion girls,” said UNICEF Chief of Data and Analytics Attila Hancioglu.
Harnessing the Power of Data for Girls: Taking stock and looking ahead to 2030 notes that data for two thirds of the 44 girl-related indicators in the SDGs– the global roadmap to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all – are either limited or poor.
In addition to household chores, the report presents data on girl-related issues addressed by the SDGs including violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and education.
Achieving the SDGs that address these issues and empowering girls with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to reach their full potential, is not only good for girls, but can drive economic growth, promote peace and reduce poverty
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child. Together with its partners, the organization works in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.