The research demonstrates how young women are disproportionately providing care for their children, partners and families, alongside supporting their wider communities, through skills such as empathy, patience, creativity and organisation - a contribution rarely recognised or acknowledged.
And this unpaid workload is having its impact on young women’s mental health, relationships and economic freedom. By picking up the pieces they are being pushed further into poverty and away from unlocking their potential.
This research was designed, conducted and analysed by young women peer researchers currently in unpaid work, allowing unique and authentic insight into circumstances that are so often holding young women back from what they would like to achieve.
Key recommendations - from young women
- Access to care, benefits or pay
100 percent of young women responding to the survey believed that the unpaid tasks they do have value and worth. Over half believed the tasks should be paid, and most others suggested some tasks should be paid and some not, for example volunteering is more of a choice compared to unpaid or recognised adult care. Young women highlighted different ways this could be 'paid' including via a fairer benefits system and access to support.
- Public awareness and recognition
Young women who are not in paid work and are seen as not likely to be in the near future, are often labelled 'economically inactive', however respondents to the survey wanted the contribution that they make to be recognised by society.
- Re-balancing of roles
Young women want unpaid work to be shared more equally, and this to be taught to men and women from a young age.
Key policy recommendations
The report calls on the government to address young women’s unpaid work by:
- No more using the term “economically inactive” to describe young women’s status
- A new law so people have a legal right to receive care
- Equal investment in care as in construction – pound for pound – so society understands care is as important as roads and railways
- A childcare revolution! Access to childcare for everyone, no matter what stage of work or learning, ensuring men share parental leave and enabling single parents to nominate a second carer to share leave with
- A change to planning and building regulations so there’s support for organisations and communities to build childcare spaces
- A national carers’ scheme that provides financial and emotional support and celebrates everyone who cares
- A welfare system that works for young women instead of discriminating against them
- Ensuring employers appreciate skills learned outside the workplace
- A nationwide community action fund to support the valuable work young women do in their communities
- A national support service for young women 16-25 experiencing economic abuse