Every child deserves to reach her or his full potential, but gender inequalities in their lives and in the lives of those who care for them hinder this reality.
Girls and boys see gender inequality in their homes and communities every day – in textbooks, in the media and among the men and women who provide their care and support.
Unequal responsibility for work in the home socializes children into thinking that these duties are women’s only roles, thereby curtailing generational change and narrowing girls’ ambitions.
" We need to change attitudes towards it. We need to set our girls free. "
- Ali Mohamed Abdi speaks against the practice of female genital mutilation, Somalia. None of his six daughters has undergone the practice, and he says neither they nor his granddaughters will.
Boys and girls who witness gender-based violence in their homes are more likely to replicate violent relationships as adults, either as perpetrator or victim.
Outside the home, community health workers – predominantly women – are often low-skilled and voluntary or underpaid, with limited opportunity for professional growth to care for the vulnerable children and families they serve.
Yet, in early childhood gender disparities between girls and boys often start out relatively small. Girls have higher survival rates at birth, are more likely to be developmentally on track, and just as likely to participate in preschool.
But, as girls and boys age, gender barriers expand.
Chores, caring for siblings, and safety issues keep girls out of school, while expectations of earning money force boys to dropout. By the time children reach age 10, boys’ worlds often expand while girls’ worlds contract, resulting in negative consequences that can last a lifetime.