Girlguiding Launches 14th Girls' Attitudes Survey
Girlguiding, the leading youth organisation for girls and young women in the UK, today launches its 14th Girls' Attitudes Survey, supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery. It reveals the issues girls and young women face and the stark differences in happiness, perceived safety, and outlook on life depending on which of the four nations they live in.
Findings from the flagship study of 3,000 girls and young women aged 7 to 21 showed girls in Scotland are least happy. There, 60% reported that they want to change many things in their lives, closely followed by those living in England and Wales (58%) and 51% in Northern Ireland.
The picture is even starker when it comes to feeling safe at school, with around 1 in 5 (19%) girls and young women aged 11 to 21 revealing they don't feel safe in school across the UK. Girls in Wales are most likely to feel unsafe (24%), compared to 19% in England and Scotland and 9% in Northern Ireland. The research also revealed girls and young women of colour aged 11 to 16 were less likely than girls who are white to feel safe at school (65% compared to 70%).
Concerningly, 19% of girls and young women aged 11 to 16 in Wales say the fear of sexual harassment holds them back at school, compared to 18% in England, 12% in Scotland and 11% in Northern Ireland.
The new research from the charity also found that 48% of girls and young women in Wales don't feel safe in public, compared to 46% in England, 35% in Northern Ireland and 34% in Scotland. Those in areas of high deprivation were also more likely than those in areas of low deprivation to say they don't feel safe outside on their own (57% compared to 49%).
- Girls in Wales are more likely to feel unsafe at school (24%), compared to 19% in England and Scotland and 9% in Northern Ireland.
- 19% of girls and young women aged 11 to 16 in Wales say fear of sexual harassment holds them back at school, compared to 18% in England, 12% in Scotland and 11% in Northern Ireland.
- Girls in Wales (48%) feel more unsafe in public compared to those in England (46%), Northern Ireland (35%) and Scotland (34%).
- Nearly a quarter (24%) of girls and young women in Wales say gender stereotypes hold them back at school, compared to 21% in England, 18% in Scotland and 16% in Northern Ireland.
Girlguiding is calling for urgent action from the new UK government and devolved governments to address the disparities in the issues impacting girls' and young women's lives, highlighted by the research findings from their 2022 Girls' Attitude Survey.
This year's survey revealed girls and young women experience sexism and unfair treatment in all areas of their lives, including online, whilst gender stereotypes continue to hold girls back. In 2022 more girls and young women aged 11 to 21 are seeing or experiencing sexism in their daily lives at school, college, university or work (66%) compared to 58% in 2018. Worryingly, 1 in 5 (21%) say that the gender stereotypes hold them back at school. For girls in Wales this again is higher (24% compared to 21% in England, 18% in Scotland and 16% in Northern Ireland).
As girls get older, they see and experience sexism in public places more (78% of young women aged 17 to 21 compared to 57% of 11 to 16s). For girls and young women who identify as LGBTQ+ this is even higher (79% compared to 65%).
We asked girls and young women aged 11-21 to identify places where they saw, or experienced sexism:
- 80% said they saw or experienced it online and on social media,
- 73% said they saw or experienced it in the media,
- 68% said they saw or experienced it in public places,
- 66% said they saw or experienced it at school/college/university,
- 63% said they saw or experienced it in politics, and
- 58% said they saw or experienced it in professional sport.
The research also indicates a significant difference in gender equality, across the four nations. 33% of girls and young women in Scotland believing gender equality has got worse as a result of the pandemic, compared to 32% in Northern Ireland and 29% in England and Wales.
Looking To The Future
Girlguiding Advocate, Erin, aged 18, said, "Girlguiding's flagship research finds that the regional inequalities girls and young women face in their sense of safety, their mental health and their confidence are stark. However, I am proud that we are becoming more empowered to challenge this discrimination.
"As a Girlguiding advocate I want to see the new government and devolved governments to read these statistics with caution and take significant action to end regional inequalities faced by girls and young women in our post-pandemic world. Levelling up is meaningless to us unless it includes this action."
Girlguiding Chief Executive Angela Salt OBE said, "It is shocking how many girls, some as young as 11 years old, don't feel safe at school, on social media or out in public. Our research shows just how common discrimination, stereotyping and sexism is in our society and how unsurprisingly this creates barriers to girls' happiness, confidence, and success. Coupled with the disparities in girls' experiences across the UK, it is vital we act now to address these issues to ensure every girl and young woman is provided with the opportunities to fulfil their potential no matter where they live."
Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People's Postcode Lottery said, "As girls and young women navigate this uncertain period of recovery, the support that Girlguiding provides has never been more vital. I'm delighted that funds raised by players of People's Postcode Lottery enable Girlguiding to empower individuals to speak out on important issues and continues to provide a happy, safe and stimulating environment for thousands of girls to recognise their potential."
Following the striking regional differences faced by girls' and young women uncovered by the research, Girlguiding is calling on the new UK government and devolved governments to make levelling up meaningful for girls and young women by prioritising their safety and wellbeing in education, health and public spaces, including online.
Girlguiding has a crucial role to play in bringing about positive change and helping girls and young women through the important stages of their lives. With the help of its dedicated volunteers and through its innovative peer education program, core programme and wellbeing and resilience tools, the charity continues to provide support to girls and young women. They continue to provide an empowering environment to create change for themselves and future generations.
Making A Difference
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