Overcoming the stigma of not knowing

By Saffron, Peer Researcher at Young Women's Trust • 14 June 2024

Saffron is a peer researcher and member of Young Women’s Trust’s Influencing Planning Group. In this blog, she addresses the stigma of not knowing enough about politics and emphasises the importance of voting.

As a young woman trying to navigate life, I juggle many stresses: mental health, self-worth, future goals, living independently, and managing work. The world is overwhelming. Keeping up with everything, especially politics, can be hard. It’s not right that our lives are often stressful, but there’s another big problem we tend to ignore: the shame of not knowing enough about politics.

Why voting matters

We all know voting is important. It’s a direct way to influence the world around you. Voting isn’t just a right; it’s a powerful tool for change. Every vote helps decide how our communities will be governed. When we vote, we have a say in critical issues like education, healthcare, reproductive rights, and climate change. All of these have profound impacts on our lives.

The challenge of understanding politics

Many of us don’t know who to vote for, and either don’t vote or vote without thinking. I was shocked to see that, compared to last year, 10% fewer young women told Young Women’s Trust they were likely to vote. This stigma around political knowledge is partly to blame. As a young woman, I feel pressure to be ‘everything’ and to ‘do it all,’ including understanding politics and staying current with the news.

Politics can seem like a vast, intricate web of policies, history, and jargon. You feel like you need to be an expert to take part, and it’s embarrassing to ask for simple explanations. I feel ashamed to ask for help—but I shouldn’t.

Practical tips for getting informed

No one expects you to have all the answers or understand every detail. What matters is your willingness to learn and engage. Start by identifying issues that matter most to you. When we asked young women, the top priorities were addressing workplace discrimination, extending the national living wage to those under 23, affordable childcare, and listening to young women’s voices for future plans. Focusing on understanding these areas can help expand your knowledge.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help in understanding things. There is no shame in saying, “Can you dumb something down?”. As a young woman, you hold immense power to shape the future. Embrace your right to vote and your ability to make a difference. Don’t let the fear of not knowing enough hold you back.

Tips for overcoming the stigma around political knowledge

  • Use all the resources available — videos, podcasts, friends and family, social media influencers, and charities resources.
  • Don’t be afraid to feel silly — I’ve even taken online personality quizzes to see which party I align with!
  • Go back to basics — start with what the different parties say about the causes that matter most to you.
  • Be open about not knowing— this will show other young women it’s okay not to know everything. It’s not a competition. Please register to vote, educate yourself, and believe in the impact you can make. Remember, your voice matters, and you can make a difference.

Register to vote

Led by young women, join our Campaign Call and learn about voting, political parties and build your knowledge about the General Election.

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