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Boys can do domestic chores and remain boys. Starting a conversation about this in Ethiopia.

Allan Kiwanuka, Strategic Programme Manager (Girls’ Education Challenge)

Educating a girl in rural Ethiopia is not easy. For Zema 13, the idea of her homework or study does not feature at home, for she is expected to devote herself to chores, of which there are plenty. Meanwhile her brother – who plans to be “an educated farmer, living in a modern way with electricity” – is able to use the family’s portable battery powered light during darkness to prepare for his classes. Asked about her friends, and playing games, and Zema says, if they have time, she and other girls make balls from scraps of cloth and play handball with them. They also make kitchen implements and ‘food’ from mud, seeds and plants – again, if they have time, which they rarely seem to.

Zema helps with family chores

96% of 16,503 girls supported by ChildHope UK girls’ education project in Ethiopia[1] spend up to eight hours a day working at home. It distracts their school attendance. Nearly 30% report arriving at school late, tired or missed school altogether as a result. Parents hold the belief that boys should not do certain types of domestic chores.Those if not done, families would not probably eat such as collecting firewood or fetching water from wells. Girls in a way are paying for families ‘utility bills’ as their school attendance and learning outcome suffer.

The world’s 1.1 billion girls are a source of power, energy, and creativity – and the millions of girls in Ethiopia are no exception. This year’s International Day of the Girl (IDG) on October 11 marks the beginning of ChildHope’s efforts to spur global attention and action to the challenges and opportunities girls face in carrying domestic chores in their homes. ChildHope and local NGO partner CHADET, support 16,503 facing problems of early marriage, risk migration, street life to enrol and thrive in school. Most spend as much as eight hours daily working on domestic chores. These hours increase when there are crises. During the 2015-2017 Ethiopia drought. Some of the girls being supported by the project had to walk over 10kms to find water for home use before going to school.

We are starting a conversation about this. ChildHope is setting up a movement for girls across the 77 schools in Ethiopia. It seeks to catalyse changes, over time in the belief held by parents and boys that these time-consuming domestic chores should be done by only girls. Parents and boys will be encouraged to expect boys to help their sisters in carrying out domestic chores. That it is good for girls, boys and parents. It does not deduct from boys’ masculinity. It will allow girls more time to thrive at school.

Join us as we mark this year’s International Day of the Girl. Boys (siblings) of girls being supported by our project will take over domestic chores at home for a week and share their experiences. We will highlight their stories and thoughts how it will affect their masculinity. Join the conversation….

[1] From early marriage, risky migration, domestic work and street life into transformative education. Independent Evaluation, Baseline Report, ChildHope UK. March 2014.

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