THE YOUNG WOMEN’S TRUST has launched a new Research Centre for Young Women’s Economic Justice, which will run a training programme to empower young women to become paid peer researchers into the economic injustices faced by young women struggling to live on low or no pay.

Young women with lived experience have been fundamental in creating the Research Centre for Young Women’s Economic Justice and are involved in developing the strategy, identifying priorities and themes, conducting the research through peer engagement, and then supporting with data analysis and developing recommendations.

The Research Centre aims to ensure young women’s experiences are better understood by policymakers. It will have an intersectional focus, aimed at shining light on the experiences of those who are often overlooked in both qualitative and quantitative research. Whilst traditional research methods can miss out on the nuances of young women’s experiences, peer research, in which a young woman is interviewed by another young woman like her, is more likely to result in open and honest sharing, thus giving a deeper insight into her life.

The Centre will build on Young Women’s Trust’s previous research into young women’s economic justice and will aim to develop a unique evidence base, with peer research at its heart. Visitors to the Young Women’s Trust’s website will be able to access reports, a data library and a video gallery of peer researchers speaking about the data gaps on the issues they face.

The launch takes place alongside a new report from the charity, Young Women’s Missing Voices and Data. This shows that the impact of coronavirus on young women is not being sufficiently measured in official data and suggests this is leading to policies and services which do not meet their needs.

There are 5.4 million young women aged 18 to 30 in the UK, but women or ‘young people’ are often treated with a one size fits all approach by researchers and policymakers. Some official data on women has been published, and some data on ‘young people’, but very seldom the two combined. As a result, millions of young women are not being seen or heard by policymakers and factors such as ethnicity, disability and location are not being consistently taken into account either.

During the pandemic, comprehensive government data on young women has been rarely available  and the government continues to make new policies aiming for social and economic recovery without considering the unique needs of young women from different backgrounds and communities.

Abi Shapiro, Interim CEO of Young Women’s Trust said: “This is a crucial time for young women, many of whom were already struggling to get by before the economic fallout of the pandemic. With our research having found that 1.5 million young women have lost income since the start of the pandemic, there’s an urgent need for policymakers to respond to young women’s needs. Yet young women’s experiences and voices are too often missing from research and data, critically undermining policy responses.

“That’s why we are delighted to be launching our new Research Centre on Young Women’s Economic Justice. We believe over time this will be a vital step to start to fill in these gaps, building a nuanced understanding of the issues which face young women. Young women have been involved in all elements of planning and creating the Research Centre and will also be part of an expert steering group alongside researchers and policymakers. By focusing on peer research as part of our commitment to collaborative research at Young Women’s Trust, we aim to give space to young women to share their voices and drive change. Over the coming weeks and months we will be sharing more information about our planned activities and opportunities for collaboration.”

Mattea, a trained peer researcher and associate of the new Young Women’s Trust Research Centre said: “So many young women I’ve spoken to face struggles in one way or another, whether it’s as a single mother, being on Universal Credit, or losing work due to the Covid crisis. I found doing peer research interviews quite daunting at first, especially asking about such personal things like their mental health, finances, or care work. But that’s why training young women like me as peer researchers works so well. As someone who’s faced similar challenges, I can come from a place of empathy and understanding.”

* Read Young Women’s Missing Data and Voices here.

* More information on the Research Centre here.

* Source: Young Women’s Trust