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International Women's Day 2023 - Empowering young women and girls to thrive

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

As we approach International Women’s Day, Yes Futures have been reflecting on how the work we do supports girls and young women to look forward to happy and fulfilling futures. At Yes Futures we embrace equity. We recognise that every young person experiences unique circumstances and societal barriers which will mean they require access to the right support and resources in order to thrive.

Equity can be defined as giving every person what they need to be successful.

For those of us who work in schools or with young people, we know the stark role that economic disadvantage can play in potential educational outcomes. We also understand that the identities of our students are formed of intersecting characteristics, and that their experiences of education, growing up and of the inequalities, obstacles and discrimination they face will be shaped by these. This International Women’s Day, we want to reflect upon the experiences of young women and girls in education so we can ensure that our programmes respond to their unique circumstances and enable them to thrive.

Students from John Henry Newman School on their World of Work Trip to Havas

The Government’s recent State of the Nation Report sheds some light on childrens' and young peoples' wellbeing. Crucially, the report provides important insights into the unique challenges facing young women and girls.

Young women and girls are statistically more likely to demonstrate lower levels of wellbeing than young men and boys.

The report shows that young women and girls report lower levels of wellbeing than boys and young men. This included lower happiness, life satisfaction, and greater anxiousness at every wave of data collection from November 2020 to July 2022. Girls and young women were less likely to feel safe when using social media and were more likely to report being bullied online. They were also twice as likely to report feeling lonely. In almost every instance, young women and girls categorised as economically disadvantaged or with a recorded SEN status reported worse outcomes.

Whilst it is well documented that young women and girls are statistically more likely to achieve better results at school than boys, it’s clear that the experience of growing up as a young woman in the UK is more complex than this. It is essential that initiatives designed to support young people in education, take account of the intersectional characteristics of the whole person and respond to their unique circumstances in order for them to thrive.

Jode works with her coach during one one of their one-to-one coaching sessions

The challenges faced by young women and girls are not inevitable – Yes Futures was established to solve these problems. Research has proven that strengthening the critical soft-skills of young people can have measurable positive impacts on their wellbeing and happiness. Young people with a better understanding of resilience are more equipped to deal with stress, to build better relationships and are better able to express their feelings and emotions.

At Yes Futures we build the critical soft-skills of young people through intensive coaching and support which strengthens the development what we call our ‘Four Talents’: resilience, communication, confidence and self-awareness. The coaching we provide is personalised to the needs of each of the young people on our programmes. Each young person is matched with a specially trained Yes Futures Coach who provides them with intensive one to one support.

95% of women and girls on a Yes Futures programme in 2022 showed an improvement in their critical soft skills.

Of the nearly 200 young women and girls that participated in our programmes in 2022, 95% showed a measurable improvement in at-least one of our four talent areas. Young women and girls on our programmes are provided with numerous opportunities to engage with inspirational female role models through both their coaching and through participating in our World of Work trips to places such as CMC Markets, the London Borough of Hounslow, Havas and SJP.

The Yes Futures team is comprised of professionals with extensive experience of supporting young women and girls in educational and youth work settings. As an employer we take pride in ensuring equitable work-based practices and benefits for the women who work as part of our team, including generous maternity pay, flexible working arrangements and numerous professional development opportunities that support women to build their careers. As a team we take time to celebrate our achievements such as those of our Chief Executive, Sarah, who was named one of NatWest's Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise in the award’s inaugural year.

Students from Hoe Valley School on their Into the Wild trip

At Yes Futures we are committed to building equity in our team and across our programmes. We are also committed to ongoing learning so that we can remove barriers to ensure every young person can thrive. We are proud of our work and proud to stand alongside the many thousands of teachers, schools and organisations working tirelessly every day to ensure secure and happy futures for all young women and girls.

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