The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a report released at the weekend that girls between five and 14 years old across the world spend 40 percent more time, or 160 million more hours a day, on unpaid household chores such as collecting water and firewood compared to boys their age.
The report, “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 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, showed the report which was released ahead of International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11.
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 report said.
“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,” Malhotra said. “This unequal distribution of labour among children also perpetuates gender stereotypes and the double-burden on women and girls across generations.”
Meanwhile, the report noted that 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.
— 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.
— 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 Goal 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.