Worldwide, nearly 90 percent of girls today are growing up in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, where labour-intensive household chores are still part of their daily routine. In many traditional families or impoverished households, tasks like fetching water, collecting firewood, or taking care of younger siblings are girls’ responsibility, says a global study released by Geneva-based World Economic Forum.
“Consequently, daughters are often the first to sacrifice important opportunities to learn, grow, and enjoy their childhood,” Unicef’s principal adviser on gender, Anju Malhotra, said in a statement. Many drop out of school. “This unequal distribution of labor among children also perpetuates gender stereotypes and the double-burden on women and girls across generations,” Malhotra said.
The study also revealed that India stood at 87th place globally in terms of gender equality despite a jump of 21 places from last year largely due to progress on the education front.
India was ranked 108th on the annual Global Gender Gap index compiled by Geneva-based World Economic Forum.India has closed its gender gap by 2 percent in a year and its gap now stands at 68 percent across the four pillars that WEF measures — economy, education, health and political representation.
The major improvement has been in education where “India has managed to close its gap entirely in primary and secondary education”, WEF said. India ranks 136 in this pillar out of 144 countries.
On educational attainment, India was ranked at 113th place; in terms of health and survival, it was a placed at a lowly 142, while on political empowerment it was among the top 10 countries.
According to the WEF’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016, the prospects of global workplace gender parity slipped further, and economic parity between the genders could take 170 years after a “dramatic slowdown in progress”.
Globally, the leading four nations continue to be Scandinavian: Iceland (1), Finland (2), Norway (3) and Sweden (4).
The next highest placed nation is Rwanda, which moves one place ahead of Ireland to 5th position.
“Slowdown partly down (due) to chronic imbalances in salaries and labour force participation, despite the fact that, in 95 countries, women attend university in equal or higher numbers than men,” the report said.
Another challenge is stagnant labour force participation, with the global average for women at 54 percent compared with 81 percent for men. Around the world, girls between the ages of five and 14 spend 550 million hours on household chores, 160 million more hours than boys in the same age group, according to a report from Unicef titled ‘Harnessing the Power of Data for Girls’
Girls aged five to nine spend an average of four hours a week on chores; that rises to nine hours per week for girls aged 10 to 14. In countries with higher expectations for girls to work, those numbers can be higher still. In Ethiopia, Somalia and Rwanda, for example, girls aged five to 14 spend two hours each day on work around the home.
According to Unicef, these early gender disparities plant the seeds of inequality, and ultimately influence how much women will work, and how little their effort is valued.
Nepal has made notable improvements on the Political Empowerment index, as well as on literacy and wage equality.
And while Bolivia records a slight decline in female labour-force participation, it has reached parity in the number of women in parliament and has fully closed its Health and Survival gender gap.
The report by WEF aims to provide an accurate picture of the global situation each year, shining a light on areas of success as well as highlighting areas where significant work needs to be done.