In this blog, Autumn imagines what the world would be like if work, salaries and benefits were equal for young women.
I’m a peer researcher and Advisory Panel member for Young Women’s Trust. I’m also disabled and I live in a very rural and isolated part of the country.
Imagining a future where work, salaries and benefits were equal for young women, I think that young women would no longer be taking on the majority of unpaid work, such as housework and childcare. We would be able to have the careers we want, instead of being forced into low-paying jobs just to pay the bills. We would have the freedom to learn, to fail, and to experiment. In this imagined future, I would be running local community schemes for those in need, I would be involved in both national and local politics. I dream of being on my local town council. I would be fighting to make my town wheelchair accessible. I would have a voice.
It’s difficult to imagine what this future would look like, in part because the effects would be so far reaching. Young women would have more financial independence and freedom, and thus more power. I hope this would mean that we’d have more rights, and that women’s issues would be taken seriously. We’d have such things as affordable childcare accessible for everyone. We’d have fair and effective healthcare for women, including research into how different conditions and treatments affect the sexes and genders in different ways. We’d have better responses to abuse and less traumatic reporting procedures.
In this imagined future, I would be running local community schemes for those in need, I would be involved in both national and local politics. I dream of being on my local town council. I would be fighting to make my town wheelchair accessible. I would have a voice.
If we had financial gender equality, I would hope that this would lead to financial equality for disabled people, and for the world of work and benefits to become actually accessible. If women are considered equal financially, equality in other areas should follow.
The government and employers should be supporting young women now in a number of ways. Flexible working is an absolute must, as is accessible accommodations. The government should be providing free childcare, as well as paying for all disability aids, equipment and adaptations. There needs to be changes to the benefits system, including increasing all benefits overall, removing the savings cap, removing the bedroom tax and the housing benefits reductions when somebody moves out, and undoing the Universal Credit reductions, gaps and cuts. The process of applying for and appealing decisions on benefits needs to be easier, quicker and more accessible. Minimum wage has to be increased to match the current true cost of living.
If this all came to pass, it would no longer feel like we were being punished for being born with a specific set of genitals. There would be less pressure on young women. In the words of the 2022 Advisory Panel we would be “thriving, not just surviving”.
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