PM must not trample young women in Brexit rush

Friday 13 December 2019

PM Boris Johnson must not trample young women in his rush to get Brexit done 

Following his election victory Prime Minister Boris Johnson must now guarantee his rush to get Brexit done does not further damage the lives of millions of young women who have been hit hardest by austerity, Young Women's Trust said on Friday, urging the new government to consider young women’s rights and potential in its plans for Britain's future.

Sophie Walker, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust, said: 

“We are keen to meet the new government as soon as possible to discuss the importance of protecting young women's rights and freeing their potential as we move towards Brexit. Today we are calling for an immediate, full and transparent equalities impact assessment of leaving the EU, to ensure protection for all workers, enshrine sex equality in UK law and ensure women’s rights are secure under any new trade agreements. If the Government is to deliver on its election promise to unleash the potential of the whole country – including the millions of young women who have been discriminated against by austerity policies that took money out of budgets for welfare and support services – then it’s time to do policy differently.”

“The General Election may be over and politicians are looking again to pass the Withdrawal Agreement - but the hard work of securing a full Brexit agreement and future trade deals will be years in the making. During that time it’s essential that government recognise the potential of young women, their resourcefulness and skills that are so often overlooked, and invest in their equality and productivity to the benefit of everyone.”

"We ask the new government and all parties to consider also the damage to democracy of under-representation of female MPs in Westminster and around negotiating tables for future trade deals. Consider also the numbers of women who MPs quit before the election citing an onslaught of personal abuse and aggressive tone of much election campaigning. There is a big job to do if women's voices and perspectives are to be heard and considered equally in Parliament. This job is a priority and is key to establishing trust in our democracy and decision-making processes. While Labour considers its future it too must use this opportunity to do politics differently and reach those women facing the greatest challenges."

“Young women are the demographic least like to have voted and our research shows why: two-thirds have lost confidence in politicians because they are struggling to access work, falling into debt as in-work poverty bites, and even forced to choose between food and childcare. The Conservative party promised to challenge injustice if it won power. We at Young Women’s Trust stand ready to help the Government end that injustice. It can do that by:

  • Providing free year-round childcare and understanding that this is an investment in jobs, higher tax revenues and lower benefit payments. Pledging to spend twice as much on potholes as on childcare reform fails to see that social infrastructure has equal value to physical infrastructure.
  • Valuing and investing in sectors that employ many young women – such as care and retail - and ensuring training and apprenticeship opportunities for women in sectors seen as traditionally 'male' – such as engineering and construction.
  • Insisting employers create respectful and fair workplaces, pay women equally and take legal responsibility for preventing sexual harassment 
  • Overhauling Universal Credit so it supports young women to achieve their aspirations instead of pushing them into poverty.
  • Investing in social housing to support the sharply-rising numbers of women and children living in temporary accommodation.
  • Introducing a Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) bill that ensures secure funding for specialist VAWG services, which can support young women experiencing all forms of abuse including economic abuse by partners preventing access to work or controlling finances."

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Young Women's Trust Chief Executive Sophie Walker is available for interview, as are young women who can speak to the way economic inequality blights their lives. Please contact Peter Simpson  at peter.simpson@youngwomenstrust.org or 07495 981142. .

Social