#GE2017: It’s in everyone’s interest to support young mums

Friday 12 May 2017

It’s in everyone’s interest to support young mums

glynn 2Young Women’s Trust has called for the next government to make work pay for people like me with caring responsibilities. This is something I believe is long overdue. As a young mother I have felt pushed aside, judged and consistently underestimated. The idea that I am more than just a mother seems to many to be inconceivable. But I want to work – not least to give my son the best possible opportunities – and the skills I have gained from being a mum have made me a better employee. This election, I’ll be voting for a party that gives young mums the support we need to find jobs. 

There are still too many barriers to mums finding and keeping jobs. A lack of flexible working opportunities makes it hard to juggle a job with caring for your child. The cost of childcare can be nearly as much as your salary. And there remains an outdated expectation women should care for children while men earn money. It’s no wonder nearly half of young mums are having to skip meals to feed their children and a quarter are forced to use food banks. 

By making flexible working the norm, not the exception, providing apprenticeships on a part-time and flexible basis and strengthening support for fathers or partners to take paid time off work for childcare, the next government has the power to help a generation of young mums into jobs. 

It’s in everyone’s interest to give young mums the support they want to find work. As well as putting food on the table for families, it means businesses benefit from the skills we have to offer. Being a mum gives us skills that are invaluable to employers. 60 per cent of young mums told Young Women’s Trust they had better time management skills, 54 per cent had better communications skills and 47 per cent had better people skills since having children. On top of that, 49 per cent had more motivation to work! 

As a group we are perceived to be an inconvenience. In my case and that of other young mothers I know, this has turned into blatant discrimination. What I find most frustrating is, like the women surveyed above by YWT, I know my caring responsibilities actually make me a great asset! Having a dependant means I’m dedicated, driven, and responsible. I have real life experience of time management, I have perfected my multitasking skills and organisational skills, I have acquired a wealth of experience I could very easily transfer into my employment. 

However, getting into work is only half the problem. Once you are there, childcare is so expensive it can be hard for many to maintain. In my local area childcare is around £68 a day. That’s more than what a young woman on the living wage would earn for a day’s work – and that’s before you’ve paid for rent, travel, food, electricity and gas. These aren’t luxuries, they’re the bare necessities we all need to live. That’s why I’m proud that Young Women’s Trust is calling on all political parties to commit to moving towards making free childcare available year-round to support women into work. 

It is important for the next government not to lose a whole generation of mothers who are desperately trying to enter the job market and participate in the economic growth of Britain. We want to contribute our talents and our skills. In return, we simply ask for more support for fathers or partners to share caring responsibilities, more flexible working opportunities and affordable childcare.