This is why we’re needed more than ever

Thursday 3 October 2019

Sophie Walker, Young Women’s Trust Chief Executive on why September has been such a busy month for our Work It Our Service – and why we won’t stop until young women have equal power, pay and positivity about themselves.

young women defiant

As MPs argue whether they should be working, more young women than ever are asking Young Women’s Trust for help finding jobs.

400 young women signed up in September to use our coaching service to boost their skills and mental health and get professional feedback on their CVs. One young woman, 22, contacted us saying: “I've been unemployed since May and I just want some help as to what to do as either a job or a career.” Another, 23, said: “I just feel stuck in a rut.”

While parliament is in chaos, young women are in crisis – and they are being ignored. September is the month of going back to school, beginning at university or starting new jobs, but too many young women are being left behind.

Right now, a million young women are struggling to live on low or no pay.

Girls do better than boys at school but are more likely to be out of work in early adulthood. They are shut out of male-dominated industries from day one, paid less for the same work and undervalued in the work that they are encouraged to do like care.

Qualified and talented, they are negotiating these barriers – and more – every day and getting knocked back by a society that doubts their ability no matter the proof.

This is bad for everyone. Businesses are missing out on talent. Economic growth is curtailed. Young women are struggling to get by. This in turn only serves to cost society more as our health services and welfare state try to support young women through this crisis.

These young women want to work. They tell us day-in, day-out, that they want to gain work that fosters their talents and pays a fair wage. And when young women thrive, society prospers.

Young Women’s Trust is supporting these young women in every way we can. But our job will only really be done when we have put ourselves out of work.

We know that achieving true equality means changing the system – not the women.

While an hour’s childcare is more than an hour’s wages, women will be shut out of work. While girls are given baby dolls and boys racing cars, women will be funnelled into care jobs and men into engineering. While girls are told to keep quiet and boys to be brave, it is no wonder young women face a crisis of mental ill-health that holds them back.

Alongside our services we are fighting to open up opportunities for young women, smash career stereotypes, build a society that values the unpaid work it relies upon women to do, and create respectful, equal workplaces.

This requires big action from government. Valuing and investing in women’s work, cracking down on bad employers, calling out and legislating against sexism, putting women at the heart of its industrial strategy.

Employers have a big part to play too. This starts with recognising the valuable contributions young women make to their work forces and doing more to recruit, retain and develop them, while treating them equally and paying a decent wage.

We know we can’t do this alone.

That is why we are building a movement of young women, working together for radical change. We won’t stop until young women have equal power, pay and positivity about themselves. Because we are equal.

Girls are born equal to boys. Yet young women say they are signing up for our services because they feel lost, lesser, lacking. Society is doing them a disservice. We are here to change that. Join us.