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Girls spend 160 million more hours than boys doing household chores everyday – UNICEF

2016-10-07

TORONTO/NEW YORK, 7 October, 2016 – Girls between five and 14 years old spend 40 per cent 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 on 11 October.

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 show that the disproportionate burden of domestic work begins early, with girls between five and nine years old spending 30 per cent 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 per cent more time, or 120 million more hours each day.

“There has been important progress in the past years to ensure girls to have every opportunity to grow to their full potential, but this report shows us that they still face significant obstacles. That is why business as usual is not enough,” warned Meg French, Chief Program Officer for UNICEF Canada. “The types of chores girls spend time on can limit their outlook on their goals and aspirations in early life. Empowering girls with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to reach their full potential, is not only good for them, it’s also good for their family and their community.”

“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 report notes 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.

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 Sustainable Development Goals (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 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.

About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information:

Marie-Hélène Bachand, Communications Specialist, (514) 288-5134 ext. 8425; Cell: (514) 232-4510, mbachand@unicef.ca