October 17, 2016

Unicef report highlights amount of time girls spend on housework

Girls aged between 10 and 14 worldwide spend 50% more time on household chores than boys of the same age, according to a new report from Unicef.

According to the report, the gender imbalance is particularly acute in the Middle EastNorth Africa, and South Asia, where girls spend twice as much time on chores as boys.

Unicef argue that time spent on housework means girls have less time for education, while also limiting girls’ outlook and potential. The report calls for girls to stay in school and be involved in sport and other leisure activities, as a step towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal on gender equality.

Anju Malhotra of Unicef commented that: “The overburden of unpaid household work begins in early childhood and intensifies as girls reach adolescence. 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.”

The report calls for better data collection on issues affecting girls, so that policymakers can make informed, evidence-based decisions.

Leslie Stratton has written for IZA World of Labor on the determinants of housework time. She writes that: “Efforts to reduce the gender wage gap and alter gendered norms of behavior should reduce the gender bias in household production time and reduce inefficiency in home production. Policymakers should also note the impact of tax policy on housework time and consider ways to reduce the distortions caused by sales and income taxes.”

Sher Verick has also written for us about the various factors affecting the quality of employment for women in developing countries. He writes that: “There is considerably more variation across developing countries in labor force participation by women than by men. This variation is driven by a wide variety of economic and social factors, which include economic growtheducation, and social norms. Looking more broadly at improving women’s access to quality employment, a critical policy area is enhancing women’s educational attainment beyond secondary schooling.”

The Unicef report, Harnessing the Power of Data for Girls, can be accessed here.

Related articles:
The determinants of housework time by Leslie S. Stratton
Female labor force participation in developing countries by Sher Verick
Policies to support women’s paid work by Gianna Claudia Giannelli
Teenage childbearing and labor market implications for women by Phillip B. Levine