What has been achieved for young women since the General Election 

By Jess, Young Women's Trust • 10 December 2021

Jess, our Policy and Campaigns Manager, reflects on what the government has achieved for young women 2 years on since the 2019 General Election.

This Sunday marks 2 years since the country went to the polls to vote in the 2019 General Election. After weeks of campaigning in the cold and dark winter, the Conservative Party won more seats, and a majority of votes, in the House of Commons.

The main focus for that General Election was Brexit. But, looking back at the winning Conservative Party manifesto, there were commitments made that we know are important to young women. Here we look at some of those commitments and see what more can and should be done to support young women.

Caring responsibilities

We know that unpaid caring responsibilities for children and relatives is mostly taken on by women. This was reflected in the Conservative Party’s manifesto, where they pledged to extend the right to time off work for unpaid carers to 1 week.

But this is still a work in progress. The government asked relevant organisations for their views on this proposal. They have further committed to introducing laws to allow for this when there is time in parliament to discuss the policy further.

We will follow this closely, as we know how valuable this will be to young women with caring responsibilities.

Employment opportunities

Our latest research, One Size Fits No One, found that young women are struggling to find jobs that work for them.

Young women are being locked out of the job market through no fault of their own. This can be because of

  • a lack of flexible working
  • sky-high childcare
  • no appropriate job opportunities in their local area

2 years on since the government’s manifesto pledge to “make it easier for you to get a good and rewarding job and to be able to combine [it] with raising a family or caring for relatives” there is still much more to do.

That includes introducing compulsory flexible working options and investing in job opportunities and training in areas where young women already are. This would support them into work and help them remain in work.

Living expenses

When the Conservative Party committed to “help people and families throughout their lives by bringing down the cost of living”, they never anticipated the impact a pandemic would have on our economy.

But we now know that young women were disproportionally affected by the pandemic lockdowns. Many juggled multiple caring responsibilities, unsafe working conditions and insecure jobs. An estimated 1.5 million young women lost income during the pandemic.

Yet, as the economy begins to recover, young women risk being left behind once again. Fuel, food and energy prices began to rise at the exact same time as the £20 uplift to Universal Credit came to an end.

Young women who are out of work, or unable to work, face the same increase in the cost of living as those in work. So, we were disappointed that the Chancellor missed an opportunity at the recent Budget to support people through this rise in the cost of living.