How you can support young women

Tuesday 26 May 2015

With new and returning MP’s now settled into their constituencies, it’s the perfect time to ensure that tackling the worrying number of disadvantaged and impoverished young women in the UK is firmly on their agenda, and that they are planning how to challenge the issue locally.

That’s why we have pulled together a toolkit to support the campaigning activities of all of our supporters. This toolkit outlines what campaigning is, how you can effectively lobby your MP (the main target of our campaign), some of the challenges you might have to overcome, what to expect afterwards and even a letter template that you can use.

I have been with Young Women’s Trust for six months now, joining the campaigns team half way through the ‘Scarred for life?’ Inquiry into female NEETS (young women not in education, employment or training). I have to admit, I am well and truly immersed in the fight to bring the great difficulties affecting young women in this country to the forefront of government thinking and policy. Being a young woman myself, and knowing first-hand how worklessness and a lack of opportunities and appreciation can affect general well-being, has made my work here feel not only crucial, but personal.

Admittedly, I’ve been pretty lucky overall, but that has only driven me more! All young women – and men – should be entitled to opportunities throughout their lives that will lead to secure work or at least the development of useful skills. Unfortunately, young women have a harder time getting such opportunities because we’re often faced with barriers and stereotypes that disproportionately affect us as a group; this is what Young Women’s Trust is challenging and why we need help from all those who support our work.

Many of us know what it’s like to feel strongly about something that seems to be largely ignored; we might not feel that we have it in our power to do anything about it or that anyone will actually listen to us. I remember the first time I contacted my MP; I was about 17 and I wanted her to do something about the long-distance transportation of live animals for slaughter. I don’t know what I expected to come of that letter, but I was surprised when I got a response in the post in which she said that she also sympathised with the issue and planned to attend the relevant debate in the House of Commons!

I had clearly expected to have been ignored, not really realising that the views of constituents are prioritised to ensure our ongoing support in elections! Since then, I’ve amassed a stack of responses from my MP to the numerous emails I send to her, and contacting their MP is the one thing I urge people to do if they’re ever concerned about a particular issue. They are there to represent us, and while we alone might feel powerless at times, as a collective we are a force to be reckoned with!