Young women know best – let them speak

Posted on the 1st May 2019

It might sound cheesy, but every day I love coming to work. I’m lucky in that I work for an organisation that understands the importance of putting the views and experiences of the people we support at the heart of what we do, and it’s my role to ensure this happens.

Young Women’s Trust (YWT) supports women aged 18-30, with experience of living on low or no pay. Over the past five years we have come a long way. Annually our services reach over 2,000 women and we continue to raise our profile through our campaign, research and media work. All of this would not be possible without the involvement of young women.

In our participation programme, young women who have experienced multiple disadvantage gain confidence and new skills through helping us design, evaluate and promote our services, and speak out to influence change. We are proud of our ability to support young women to share their opinions and campaign for change, and we believe that everyone – including policy makers, employers and practitioners alike – has a responsibility to listen to young women and act on what they say. This is why our new toolkit Working inclusively with young women: A toolkit for meaningful participationis a useful place to start to ensure this happens.

Our toolkit was created with young women and is based on our experience of working with them. Top tips for meaningful participation include being flexible and accessible, providing creche facilities, covering all travel costs upfront, making activities relatable, catering to different learning styles and demonstrating the impact to show that you’ve really listened and acted on what they said.

a toolkit for meaningful participation

In celebration of International Women’s Day this year we asked MPs to host #RealTalk events with young women in their constituencies. These events were an opportunity for MPs to listen to young women’s views about what should change so more women can access, progress and sustain work. We provided MPs with a copy of our toolkit and encouraged them to use it to help arrange their events, ensuring they were accessible and inclusive.

On the day, 8 MPs held events in areas such as London, Rotherham and Swansea and these were attended by over 60 young women. Thomas Kelsey, Parliamentary Assistant for Geraint Davies, MP for Swansea West said, “YWT’s excellent participation toolkit was crucial to the success of our #RealTalk event. It highlighted the need for politicians to level the playing field for young women and reach out to hear directly from them. It also illustrated the importance of creating a space where solidarity among young women could flourish. A key learning for me was that platforms like these are invaluable because they give young women an opportunity to find comfort and friendship in shared experiences, whilst pooling their collective wisdom to generate ideas and solutions about specific issues”.

We believe our toolkit can help everyone to empower young women to speak out and co-create a fairer society for all. Priscilla, a member of our national advisory panel once said, “It is so important that there are more platforms for young women to be granted the space to speak out and influence because this way everyone wins”, and we couldn’t agree more.

Lydia Morgan

Participation Manager at Young Women’s Trust

Lydia Morgan has a real passion for participation and engagement. With over 10 years-experience working in this field in the voluntary sector, she believes that everyone should have a say about the decisions that affect their lives and that they are given the skills, confidence and platforms to influence change at local and national levels.

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