Girls are performing more hours of unpaid household chores a day than boys of their age worldwide, reported the United Nations Children's Fund.
UNICEF released an alarming report on the much-ignored burdens faced by female children ahead of the International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11. Even in this modernized world the gender disparity exists and unfortunately starts as young as 5 years old.
According to UNICEF's report, females aged between 5 and 14 years perform about 160 million more hours of unpaid household chores a day than their male counterparts. Girls spend about 40 percent more time every day in doing household work, fetching water and collecting firewood than boys of their age.
It is noted that girls aged between 5 and 9 years perform 40 million more hours of domestic work, which accounts for 30 percent more time, than boys belonging to that age group. The bias is even worse in children aged between 10 to 14 years where girls performed 120 million hours of work more than boys of their age every day. In other words, girls spend 50 percent more time in doing domestic work than boys each day.
Anju Malhotra, UNICEF's principal gender advisor, said that the burden of performing household chores starts early in a girl's life and increases as she grows older. Hours of physical burden prevent millions of girls from reaching their goals as well as deny them their basic opportunities to grow, learn and simply enjoy their childhood.
"This unequal distribution of labor among children also perpetuates gender stereotypes and the double-burden on women and girls across generations," Malhotra added.
The report has it that girls from 10 to 14 years of age living in countries in South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East spend twice the amount of time doing domestic work compared to boys. More specifically, countries including Yemen, Burkina Faso and Somalia are observed to show the biggest labor disparity between girls and boys in that age group.
Collecting and analyzing data on labor and other girl-related issues is part of UNICEF's aim to achieve gender equality, which is one of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. According to the UN, using these data will help organizations and policymakers assess the problems girls experience and aid them in coming up with programs to address critical issues.
"Quantifying the challenges girls face is the first critical step toward meeting the 'Sustainable Development Goal' on gender equality and breaking down barriers that confront the world's 1.1 billion girls," said Attila Hancioglu, UNICEF chief of data and analytics.
In addition to domestic work, girls also face issues like child marriage, violence and female genital mutilation. Many girls are denied basic education as well.