PRESS RELEASE: UNICEF South Africa: International Day of the Girl Child, 11 October

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

 PRETORIA, 11 October, 2016 – Girls between 5 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 5 and 9 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.

“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.

In South Africa, progress continues to be made with advancing the rights and opportunities for girls. A supportive constitution and legislative framework, increasing enrolment of girls at all educational institutions as well as growing visibility of girls and young women in leadership positions are all encouraging developments.  Challenges do however remain particularly with regard to supporting millions of girls who are trapped in poverty in both urban and rural areas. In addition, too many girls are subject to violence, sexual assault and are HIV-infected or affected. From girl-headed households to teenage pregnancies, from substance abuse to being forced to drop out of school, girl children in South Africa face many real difficulties and obstacles to their development.

Working with partners in Government and civil society, UNICEF works to support the rights and welfare of girls with regard to health, education, protection and policy. Examples of this are the Techno Girl programme which arranges mentorship opportunities and the Girl Empowerment Movement which provides leadership skills to girl learners.

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.

Download the report and broadcast quality multimedia materials here: http://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIFM2ONZ

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For more information, contact:

Sandra Bisin, Chief, Communication and Partnerships, UNICEF South Africa

061 418 7486 / 012 425 4710, sbisin@unicef.org