One Thing Holding Girls Back Worldwide

Editor's note: Tuesday, October 11 is International Day of the Girl Child, a United Nations-backed movement “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” The following photo series, produced by UNICEF, shines a light on one major barrier to education and prosperity for the 1.1 billion girls worldwide.
Most of us remember what a drag it was to do chores as kids.
But for millions of girls worldwide, daily household tasks go far beyond cleaning one's room or emptying the dishwasher in hopes of scoring some allowance or permission for a night out with friends.
Girls between the age of 5 and 14 spend a cumulative 550 million hours a day on unpaid household labor, according to a new report from UNICEF.
The report, Harnessing the Power of Data for Girls: Taking stock and looking ahead to 2030, reinforces the time-poverty problem we've written about in the past: Chores like cleaning, cooking, and collecting water and firewood disproportionately impact the lives and livelihoods of girls, creating a major barrier to education, prosperity, and even safety.
Girls 14 and younger spend 160 million more hours a day on those unpaid chores than boys in that age range, the report found. And the responsibilities increase with age. The average girl 10 to 14 spends nine hours a week on unpaid labor — a figure that can be twice as high in some regions.
That gender disparity can have long-lasting effects. The unequal distribution of labor can "not only set the stage for unequal burdens later in life, but can also limit girls’ outlook and potential while they are still young," the report notes.
Addressing the time-poverty gap could have a huge impact on girls on a number of levels. UNICEF sees it as a key step toward hitting the benchmarks for girls established in the Sustainable Development Goals, a United Nations initiative aimed at creating a better world by 2030.
"Supporting girls to stay in school and be involved in sports, play, and other leisure and asset-building activities — and investing in infrastructure, technology, and child care to ease uneven burdens — can help put girls on the path to empowerment, and the world on course to greater gender equality," the report notes.
Ahead, a look at the burdens and responsibilities girls bear across the globe.

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