Revisiting Gender Roles: The Need for Equitability when Sharing Household Chores Between Your Sons and Daughters

[By Mamudou Jallow]

Most of us will agree that our children are gifts from God. Yet the way we treat these gifts vary significantly depending on their gender. This is especially so when it comes to sharing household chores between our children. In most of our homes, our sons are treated like princes, with hardly any significant chores assigned to them while our daughters are inundated with every chore that there is around the house.

Just visit any household during school break or during weekends, hardly will you find the boys around. From the time they’d eaten their breakfast, the boys go off to play with their friends. Boys have the whole day to themselves engaged in leisurely activities from playing football to idly chatting with their friends. When they are at home, all they do is watch TV or play video games. Unfortunately, the daily routine of the girl child is a sharp contrast to that of our boys.

While our boys are left to wake up on their own on most non-school days, we hastily wake our girls early in the morning to help us with work around the house. They help sweep our houses, clean the overnight dirty dishes, and help in fixing breakfast and in the cleanup after breakfast. By the time they are done with that, we ask them to help in cooking the launch, doing more washing of pots and plates and also serving launch.

Before she goes to bed on a given day, a girl would have spent between eight to ten hours of her time on chores around the house, errands to the shop or taking care of her younger ones while her male counterparts do absolutely nothing productive. It is time we stop that right away.

To begin with, we must understand that when it comes to household chores and work in general, there is no task that is specific to females alone. If cooking was really feminine, then how come most of the world’s best chefs are male? Why is cleaning dishes considered a girl’s thing but dirtying them is the expertise of the boys? We really need to take a step back and look at how we’ve unfairly reduced our daughters to servants right in our own houses.

Have we ever considered the impressions that such actions will have on our kids who we say are the leaders of tomorrow? By inundating our girls with chores around the house and letting the boys do practically nothing, are we not teaching our kids that they are not equal? Are we not silently saying that our girls are objects but our boys are royalty? Are we teaching our male children any compassion and respect towards their female counterparts?

It goes without saying that most of the abuses directed towards women in society and in our workplaces trace their roots back to our homes. Most men have been sub-consciously taught that they are superior to women and so lashing out at women is nothing strange for some men due to the way they’ve been raised.

We will be doing ourselves and the future generations a great service if we start treating our male and female children equally. It is only by showing our boys at an early age that their female siblings are of equal importance would they grow up respecting and honoring women in general. The re-orientation process should start with being equitable in sharing household chores between our female and male children. After all, aren’t our female children precious gifts from God too?