In every corner of the world girls do more housework than boys, and this gender gap starts young and only widens with age. So reports UNICEF in a global analysis that finds girls on average spend 40% more time on household chores than do boys, and that this amounts to 160 million more hours of work every day. The gender divide starts by age 5, with girls between the ages of 5 and 9 devoting 30% more time on this unpaid work than boys, and widens to 50% more time for girls between the ages of 10 and 14. The BBC reports that the findings, which include data on violence, child marriage, education, and female genital mutilation, is being formally released on Oct. 11, the UN's international day of the girl.
Chores range from cooking and cleaning the house to taking care of family members young and old and collecting water and firewood, reports New York magazine. "As a result, girls sacrifice important opportunities to learn, grow, and just enjoy their childhood," says UNICEF’s principal gender adviser, Anju Malhotra. She adds that the unequal distribution of unpaid labor perpetuates gender stereotypes and in some countries is shown to increase girls' risk of sexual violence. The countries with the highest gender gap are Burkina Faso, Yemen, and Somalia, and girls in Somalia average 26 hours a week on chores, more than any other children anywhere. (Women do the bulk of housework in the US, regardless of how many hours they work outside the home.)