The government need to listen to young women to understand their unique experiences

By Louise • 27 November 2021

In this blog, Louise, a Peer Researcher, interviews our Policy and Campaigns Manager, Jess about our new report One Size Fits No One.  This blog spotlights the key findings, how the research has helped us push for change and how it will feed into future strategies.

Louise: Why was the One Size Fits No One research needed?

Jess: We know that young women were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The government keeps on saying that they want to build back better and in order to do this they need to listen to young women and understand their unique experiences.

The report showed the barriers that young women have faced when they are accessing the benefit system and trying to get into work. Barriers like age, race, disability discrimination and struggles with mental health.  A lot of politicians will never have dealt with these types of barriers, so it is important that politicians are in touch with what young women are facing now, which is what our research report brings to light.

So it is our job, at Young Women’s Trust to make sure that young women get in front of politicians to share their experiences and help bring about that change.

Louise: What would you say is the most important takeaway from the research?

Jess: That young women should not be treated like a homogenous group. Young women have unique experiences and intersectionalities that should be considered, particularly when they are accessing the benefit system.

Louise: What finding stood out to you the most?

Jess: For me it was Anya’s story. She has a physical health condition which she has had since birth, and interviewed for a job that would have started at 8:30am. Anya explained to the employer that the start time would not be possible for her as the carers come to help her at 9am. She asked for flexible working and for her hours to be reduced from 37 to 35 hours per week to accommodate for her care needs.The employer said no. I think the fact that they would not consider her caring needs, such as being able to get up and get ready for the day was totally unfair and unreasonable.

Louise: I agree, those are reasonable adjustments and should be accommodated. The research includes some really compelling statistics, which stood out the most to you?

Jess: 74% of respondents on Universal Credit told us that they will struggle financially after the £20 pound uplift is removed. Black young women and those who identify as mixed heritage were much more likely to say that they will struggle financially as a result of the reduction in income.

Louise: That’s a hard statistic to hear but really important to share. What kind of people do we want to listen to our findings?

Jess: We have met with Taiwo Owatemi, who is the Labour Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, and Wendy Chamberlain, who is the Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions spokesperson. We asked them to speak up on behalf of young women in parliament. That will hopefully help the government listen to what we are saying as charity and as young women.

We are promoting the report and findings to politicians at every opportunity that we can find. So that means asking for meetings, sending suggested parliamentary questions and looking for opportunities for debates. Young women’s voices need to be heard by politicians so we are arranging meetings with MPs and young women to make sure that happens.

My hope is that we will meet with more politicians who will listen to and understand the unique experiences of young women and take our cause for change seriously.

Read the full report: One Size Fits No One