Young women and the cost of living crisis

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2023 National Women's Conference
14 October 2022

Conference believes the cost of living crisis has had a gendered impact, with the persistent effect of the gender pay gap and the higher likelihood that women are in part time or low-paid work.

Conference notes the March 2022 research by the Living Wage Foundation which found that in addition to these inequalities, women are more vulnerable to high inflation, as they spend a higher proportion of their income on household goods which are “more susceptible to inflation-induced volatility.”

Conference further notes the June 2022 report from the Young Women’s Trust which found that the cost of living crisis was impacting disproportionately on young women compared to their male peers. The Young Women’s Trust found that 52% of young women said they were ‘filled with dread’ when they think about their household finances, and 24% have been unable to afford food or essential supplies in the last year. These impacts are even worse for young women with children.

The Young Women’s Trust report highlights the way that employers’ practices disadvantage young women at work, leading to lower pay and fewer progression opportunities for women. 1 in 5 Human Resources professionals interviewed by the YWT said that their organisation did not have any measures in place to support the advancement of women’s equality in the workplace; and 31% agreed that “it is harder for women to progress in their organisations than men”.

Conference recognises the strong work done by UNISON and the National Women’s Committee to address the gender pay gap and believes that UNISON has an essential role to play in combatting the cost of living crisis. Conference believes that young women’s voices must be heard as part of UNISON’s campaign on the cost of living and against the gender pay gap and that this is a crucial opportunity to build engagement and involvement from UNISON’s young women members.

Conference asks the National Women’s Committee to:

1)Continue to highlight the gender pay gap and to campaign for more robust legislation addressing the gender pay gap;

2)Continue to promote UNISON’s materials on the gender pay gap to women members and branch and regional women’s groups;

3)Support and promote the national UNISON campaign on the cost of living crisis, and seek to highlight the gendered impact of the cost of living crisis on women workers and young women;

4)Work with the National Young Members Forum to engage young women members with UNISON campaigns on the cost of living crisis, and to use this as an ‘organising issue’ to encourage more young women members to become activists;

5)Promote the National Women’s Committee work on the gender pay gap to young women in UNISON.