New report finds that young women feel that government policy is leaving them behind.
Irise International’s new report, Young and Female; The Double Disadvantage, reveals that the majority of young women feel that the pandemic response has failed to meet their gender specific needs, often exacerbating their negative experiences due to a lack of insight into their vulnerabilities and priorities. Many cite the example of feeling unsafe going for walks over the last year, particularly during winter and the failure of government guidance to acknowledge or cater for their specific but widely shared vulnerability.
This has left young women feeling hopeless and powerless. They do not feel heard or represented by their government and many do not believe meaningful change is even possible. The rapid evidence review and primary research with 57 young people, predominantly young women, and 4 partner organisations with experience of supporting hundreds of people and their families during the pandemic concluded that if urgent action is not taken to restore their agency and identify and meet their needs, young women are at risk of falling behind and never recovering from the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.
Irise International’s CEO, Dr Emily Wilson said,
“Urgent action is needed to amplify their [young women’s] voice and leadership and pursue the priorities they care about. As long as policy and intervention fail to take full account of their experiences, being female will continue to be a disadvantage- a disadvantage multiplied when combined with other drivers of marginalisation. This disadvantage not only prevents those affected from realising their full potential but limits the ability of our society to recover and flourish. As long as half of our country is held back by their bodies, our social & economic development, leadership, and governance will suffer.”
25 year old Gunita Cheema, Founder of Girl’s in Policy, a platform that aims to support young women from diverse backgrounds into the non-profit and public sector said,
“The Young and Disadvantaged report mirrors what many young women like me have been feeling this past year: voiceless and powerless. The pandemic response has left many young women especially vulnerable young women from marginalised communities in a purgatory of worrying career prospects and deteriorating mental health with limited access to support. I urge the government to think about young women in their response to the pandemic – the pandemic has impacted every aspect of our lives and we need to be considered. Put in safeguards and think about the wider implications of policy on the most vulnerable. If action is not taken now there will be a serious loss of potential for the future.”
Gunita Cheema and Emily Wilson are both available for interview. Please email [email protected] with requests.