Lockdown one year on: how young women are paying the price for the pandemic

17 March 2021

The deep impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on society and the economy has had a devastating effect on young women’s work, finances, and mental health.

Published a year after the first lockdown started, this report draws on a survey, we asked young women about their experiences since the pandemic hit. It also draws on insights from young women we have directly supported through our services during this period.

The findings

The findings make for troubling reading, providing yet more evidence of how young women feel let down by government. They lay bare the increasing stress on young women’s finances and the challenges of juggling work, childcare, and other caring responsibilities. It also shows the pressure cooker of a growing mental health crisis.

  • 86% of young women said they felt that the government response to the pandemic had made things worse for people like them.
  • 83% of young women said that their mental health had suffered, and more than half (55%) said they had experienced depression in the last year.
  • 2 in 3 mums aged 18 to 30 said they had been financially affected in the last year.
  • More than half of young women said they have been affected financially by the pandemic.
  • One in seven of those unable to work from home said they have been working without proper protection or safety equipment.
  • One in ten young women said they have been unable to afford food or other essentials.

I’ve been shielding since 23 March 2020. I was forced to leave my job because I felt unsafe and I have been turned down at interviews for having a disability and needing to shield (I asked if I could work from home as it was an office-based role, they said no).


I had to take two weeks off to self-isolate after my mum caught Covid for the second time from her work in a care home. Work were nasty to me and accused me of lying. The financial hit from this was devastating and I am still trying to catch up now on bills I was forced behind on.


Moving forward

To ensure no young woman is left behind as the country seeks to recover from the pandemic, the report calls on the government to

  • Provide essential financial support to young women.
  • Increase funding for mental health services.
  • Invest in jobs and training for young women.

It also urges the government to be transparent about the impact of measures it is taking on young women, including by publishing Equalities Impact assessments of all major policies and legislation.