Picking up the pieces

24 November 2020

We know that year on year, young women continue to face inequality in all areas of their lives that blocks their access to economic justice. However, this year we needed to know the impact of the coronavirus pandemic to understand what life is really like for young women in 2020.

To produce this research we combined findings from our annual survey of 4,000 young people, with in-depth peer research interviews with 60 young women across England and Wales. This has given us a unique insight into the economic, mental, and emotional impact of the coronavirus crisis.

The findings

We found that the pandemic and resulting recession has left young women picking up the pieces. It has increased the existing inequality they face with catastrophic consequences. We found that

  • An estimated 1.5 million young women lost income since the start of the pandemic
  • Since March, 69% of young women claiming benefits did so for the first time
  • Half of young mums were unable to get or keep a job because of childcare costs
  • Over a third of young women wouldn’t report sexual harassment for fear of being fired
  • An estimated 750,000 young women had to go to work despite safety fears
  • Over half of young women are worried about their mental health

There was no childcare. I was the teacher. I was the mother. I was the maid. I was the carer. I was everyone. Everything.

A young woman


What’s my future now? How am I going to cope with this? How am I going to support my dad?

A young woman


Moving forward

It’s not surprising that 61% of young women said they feel ignored by politicians. Our findings show that if the government truly wants to help the country recover from the current crisis, they need to reconnect with and listen to young women. This includes those who face additional discrimination and barriers, such as young women of colour, young female parents and young women with a disability.

Any recovery plan for the UK must acknowledge and address the extent to which young women have already been picking up the pieces and holding up our economy in 2020.

The young women we work with will be using these findings to campaign for equality and economic justice over the coming year.