There is a huge gender inequity among young boys and girls who go to high school across India. And a recent study has revealed that household chores is “the single largest contributor” of the disparity in the percentage of boys and girls who attend class 9th and 10th in schools.
The study revealed that domestic work at an age as young as 12 years old was the biggest cause of gender gap at 36% (of quantifiable statistics)
The Indian division of Young Lives, an international research project studying childhood poverty, recently concluded a study based on a survey sample of children who completed their high school successfully. In the survey, 358 boys (76.8%) and 322 girls (66.3%) passed their high school. Then Renu Singh, country director for Young Lives India, and study co-author Protap Mukherjee carefully assessed each and every child on different parameters outside school that they came up with. These parameters included caste, wealth, birth order, mother’s education, hours of work and early reading skills.
Singh and Mukherjee then calculated the percentage of all these factors in numbers and compared it with the existing gender gap. The study revealed that domestic work at 12 years old was the biggest cause of gender gap at 36% (of quantifiable statistics).
After housework, mother’s education, paid work at age 12 and reading skills at age eight are the following factors that contribute to gender inequality rather than caste and poverty
Titled “Whatever she may study, she can’t escape from washing dishes: Gender inequity in secondary education – evidence from a longitudinal study in India”, the name came from an anecdotal instance from one of the families they surveyed. It was published online in Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education last month.
The key takeaway from the study is that domestic work is killing the cause of educating young children of both genders, but the probability of girls getting restricted from completing secondary education is much higher than boys. The survey shows that by “predictive probability”, 63% girls and 84% boys finish high school while doing two hours of domestic chores.
“It is the biggest factor for girls and no one talks about it,” said Singh as reported by Scroll. “Twelve is really young and as girls grow older, the pressures intensify.”
After housework, mother’s education, paid work at age 12 and reading skills at age eight are the following factors that contribute to gender inequality among children who study till high school. Caste and poverty are not such great causes as compared to others in an already marginalized group from Andhra Pradesh that was surveyed.
The group has been actively studying the lives of 3,000 children divided in two different groups of eight-year-olds and one-year-olds for a decade and a half. These children are from poor families of undivided Andhra Pradesh.
After looking at the various factors, the study suggests that the government should do a rethink on the section of the child labour law that allows children to work in “family enterprises” outside of school hours.
“Given that hours spent on household chores for the girl child appears to be the biggest contributor for the gender gap, it is important to reconsider the recent amendment [in 2016] to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, which allows children up to the age of 14 years to work in family enterprises and farm lands after school hours and on holidays. Long hours of domestic chores at age 12 clearly impedes girls from continuing into secondary education and households must be sensitized to provide girls the time and space to study.”
The study also talked about how the amendment has completely missed out on the number of work hours and conditions in which the children should work.
The researchers of the study do clarify that this quantitative analysis cannot be the exact explanation to the gender gap. They believe that only 30.8% of the gender gap has been explained and attributed to these specific factors through statistical analysis. However, there could be many unexplained factors that are contributing towards the gap, they said.
Picture credit- Live Mint
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