It takes a village to raise a child- African proverb.
This beautiful proverb recognises the vital contribution that community and society make in order for one to be a successful and productive member of society. This support is crucial, especially for those who are part of marginalised groups as they are more vulnerable than most. For the purposes of this article, I will specifically address young women, young women such as myself.
A research publication published by UN Women in 2020 “Gender Equality in the wake of Covid19”, revealed that women were mostly overrepresented in many of the industries that were hard hit by the pandemic. This referred to industries such as food service, retail and entertainment where there were globally 40% of women employees compared to 36.6% men. The UN Secretary General’s policy brief: “The impact of COVID-19 on women” published in April 2020 also found that women aged 25-34 were 25% more likely than men to live in extreme poverty. These stats are very concerning and show that intervention is required in order to alleviate the strain that women are under, particularly during this pandemic. The good news is, there are many organisations created to tackle some of these issues- Young Women’s Trust (a charitable organisation) and GirlDreamer alike working tirelessly to achieve economic justice for young women in the UK aged 18-30 years, the YWT offers free career coaching service, whilst campaign for young women’s equality in the workplace and conducting research to assess the lived experiences of young women, with an intention to create solutions. It may often feel as though we are making little progress, but knowing that there are organisations championing for a faire world for women like myself, gives me hope.
I discovered the Young Women’s Trust a few years ago, when I found myself in a rut a few years after graduating from university and spending a few years working professionally. At the time, I was juggling work, study, being a single mum while trying to find my place in British society as a Black African woman. It was no easy feat, I was emotionally drained, frustrated and felt unsure how to advance my career. While venting to a close friend, she told me about the Young Women’s Trust and suggested I sign up for free coaching and support with CV
The Young Women’s Trust quickly assigned me a free telephone-based career coach. This was a convenient arrangement and she was brilliant! Together we set clear career objectives and she encouraged me to connect with other women-focused organisations in my professional field who could provide a support network and mentoring opportunities. She also provided me with resources I could use to better manager my stress levels and helped me realise my abilities, which boosted my confidence. Since then, my career moves have been very strategic, I have an excellent mentor and am a member and volunteer for several organisations who support women in Financial Services.
Organisations like Young Women’s Trust and GirlDreamer alike, continue to provide the necessary resources to help women, such as myself, break through glass ceilings, and champion the change we wish to see.
My relationship with YWT has evolved, I now support their work by making a monthly donation and championing their campaigns. I will be forever grateful for the support during what was a difficult time and would encourage young women all over the UK who require their assistance to get involved whether with the YWT, GirlDreamer, or any other organisation committed to the empowerment and education of young women.
We may have a long way to go, but look how far we have since travelled?