The news about the cost of living increases is everywhere right now and many of us are feeling the impact. Our recent survey showed that young women are particularly struggling, as they come out of the pandemic and into this new challenge.
In this blog, Claire Reindorp, Young Women’s Trust CEO, talks about why young women are amongst the hardest hit.
Young women really are at the sharp end of the cost of living crisis because they were closer to the financial cliff edge to start with. There was already an income gap between young women and young men – on average young women take home around a fifth (22%) less. This is because young women are more likely to be doing unpaid caring work, like caring for children or younger siblings. So they are more likely to be in part time jobs, not able to get enough hours or to progress – or indeed not working at all.
The impact of all this is that young women had more limited resources to help them weather the financial storm we are now in. And that’s why we’re now seeing so many young women anxious about their finances and struggling to make ends meet.
Filled with dread
52% of young women told us they are ‘filled with dread’ when they think about their household finances. Our research tells us that women are taking on more debt, going without meals so their children can eat, and struggling to make their cash last until the end of the month.
All this causes intense fear, dread and anxiety. And as well as the immediate struggles just to get by, they are worried about their futures. Young women tell us they are feeling ‘stuck in the mud’, unable to take chances, grow and learn because they’re spending all their energy on just surviving.
Young women’s options have narrowed down to heat or eat… We can’t blame young women for this – we must look at what’s going on in the world around them.
It’s not about personal budgeting decisions
Our survey really shows that it’s a struggle to survive. Young women’s options have narrowed down to heat or eat – nevermind Netflix or Nando’s – those luxuries disappeared a long time ago. This is about the structural barriers trapping young women in inadequate pay, not about personal budgeting decisions. We can’t blame young women for this – we must look at what’s going on in the world around them.
Young women’s voices need to be heard
We believe the big solutions lie with government and with employers. Many young women want to work, but their employers don’t offer flexible working that fits with their childcare responsibilities. A third of the young women we spoke to wanted to work more hours, but many can’t because of the cost of childcare. They want to get on in their careers, but they can’t because of discrimination in the workplace.
These are the things that we will be campaigning on at Young Women’s Trust, to get young women’s voices and needs heard. Change is possible!
Our new research reports on the financial and employment experiences of young women and the impact these have on their lives.