Gender norms are neither set nor universal and change over time. Some standards are good, such as, the norm that children shouldn’t smoke. Other norms lead to inequality. They restrict a gender identity into what is considered to be appropriate. Household chores, for example, are much more likely to be performed by girls than boys. By contrast, men and boys are more often targeted for active combat roles by armed groups because of the association of masculinity with defending homes and communities. Girls account for two-thirds of all children who perform household chores for at least 21 hours per week, which is the amount of time that can negatively impact a child’s schooling. Similarly, women spend two to 10 times more time on unpaid caregiving and domestic work than men. 


Harmful gender roles deny millions of girls their rights to education, health and independence.Sadly, girls are kept from school in favour of gender roles related to their role in household chores and the position of girls in society. Their voices are undervalued if heard at all. Their childhoods are stolen, and the countries where they live are robbed of their talent and potential. 


This reduced access to education has long-term consequences for the future of girls. Inequality cuts girls’ futures short – when girls are excluded from receiving an education, their ability to earn a living and become independent is drastically limited. Without equal opportunities to learn, income inequality and dependence on men to provide keeps girls in a cycle of poverty and confinement to their homes to perform unpaid domestic labour. Lack of outside opportunities limit the ability of girls to reach their ambitions. In extreme scenarios, such as in sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia, girls of every age are more likely to be excluded from education than boys.