You are here:

Girls’ Burden of Unpaid Care

A girl does the washing in Vietnam

Unpaid care work

The burden on girls

As the girls in our study turn 11, we're looking at how unpaid work at home impacts their lives.

Ruth in Uganda


Ruth lives in a semi-rural area in one of the poorest communities in Uganda, with her parents and siblings. They regularly struggle with sickness, and this year Ruth’s malaria was so bad that she struggled at school as a result.

Ruth says she spends nearly 10 hours a day on household chores. She does the housework with her mother and practices reading with her father. It is difficult to see where she can find time for her schoolwork with her illnesses and the chores she is expected to complete taking up most of her time.

Cchea in Cambodia


Chhea is from Cambodia and lives with her elderly grandfather, two older siblings and two younger siblings. Her father is disabled after losing a leg and her mother is the family’s sole breadwinner. Housework is split between Chhea, her mother and her older sister.

Chhea spends around two hours a day on chores, but she accepts the fact that chores are split according to gender and that the females do the bulk of the housework. She says she sometimes misses school to help her mother or look after her brother, but her mother reports that she is never absent from school and only helps with a small portion of firewood collection.

Heydi, who lives in El Salvador


Heydi lives in El Salvador with her grandmother and aunt. She believes that being a good girl means being obedient and listening to your parents – it means doing chores and not fighting.

Heydi does errands including going to the clinic, to the port to do shopping and also takes care of her sick mother at times. She says she ‘hardly goes to school’ because of some of these responsibilities.

Heydi believes that it is important for girls to go to school, and she has ambitions to study up until university level and become a nurse. 

Real Choices, Real Lives

Find out more about the study and read previous updates