Apparently, girls spend 40% more time than boys doing household chores, according to a new UNICEF report. That’s a dismal statistic to be faced with on a Friday afternoon. It’s also not exactly surprising. According to the report, girls between the ages of 5 and 14 spend 160 million more hours cooking, cleaning the house, taking care of family members, and collecting water and firewood–and this is across the globe.
The chores start pretty young too, as girls ages 5 and 9 spend 30% more time, which translates to 40 million more hours a day than boys. Sadly, the gap only widens as they get older, as 10- to 14-year-old girls spend 120 million more hours, or 50% more time, each day. That’s bad.
Anju Malhotra, UNICEF’s principal gender adviser, stated:
“As a result, girls sacrifice important opportunities to learn, grow, and just enjoy their childhood. This unequal distribution of labor among children also perpetuates gender stereotypes and the double-burden on women and girls across generations.”
To make matters worse, a lot of work girls and women do isn’t seen as “work,” as caring for children is often just viewed as something “women do.” This also means that as girls start taking care of other children, it limits time they can use to study, socialize, and play. The report also chillingly noted that going out to collect supplies, like water and firewood, can also put girls at risk of sexual violence. Clearly, something needs to change–and the first step is changing our perceptions.
UNICEF chief of data and analytics, Attila Hancioglu, echoed this in the statement:
“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.”
It’s about time the world saw women and girls are more than just people who pick up after everyone else, but people who should be able to pursue friendships, careers, and independence.