Following the launch of our final Girls Speak report, ‘Pushed Out, Left Out’, Agenda Alliance held an online event to share and discuss the report’s key findings.
The event brought together key officials, organisations within the sector and young women with lived experience to discuss ways to take forward the recommendations for change set out in the report.
The final Girls Speak report focuses on the experiences of girls and young women with multiple unmet needs who describe feeling ‘pushed out and left out’ from appropriate help across services such as schools, doctors, and mental health provision. It explores the real-life impact of lack of specialist support for young women who are most at risk of poverty, abuse, discrimination and poor mental health and emphasises the importance of gender-, age-, trauma-, and culturally- responsive services.
Over the course of the Girls Speak project, we have also produced two briefing papers: Struggling Alone, which focuses on girls and young women’s mental health, and Girls at Risk of Exclusion on girls at risk of exclusion from mainstream education.
During the event, we were able to focus in on these areas and hear from several young women about their experiences with services. One young woman in particular spoke about how the trauma she experienced as a young, Black girl presented as ‘disruptive’ behaviour within school. While the behaviour was punished, her trauma was not picked up on by teachers.
“I felt like no one considered that my mental health was really bad,” she said. “I felt stereotyped at school. I was labelled the loud, black girl.”
She explained that she just needed support.
“If I had early intervention, it would have saved me from a lot. I just really needed the help at an early age.”
Following speeches from the young women, we heard from officials and colleagues within the sector who emphasised the urgency of the issues raised within the Girls Speak report given the country’s economic situation and the ongoing contraction of public services. The steep rise in mental health problems post-pandemic was also called to attention, as well as the fact that nearly a third of young women experience mental health difficulties compared to one in ten young men.
Finally, our panel discussion brought together key decision-makers and sector voices to follow up on how our recommendations can be taken forward. During this discussion, several key points from our report recommendations were highlighted, including the need for:
- Applying an intersectional lens to policy and data analysis;
- Prioritising and promoting trauma-informed practice;
- Safe spaces for girls and young women and preventative and educational support;
- Meaningful co-production: including girls and young women in the design and delivery of services;
- Funding and commissioning for gender-specialist and community-based services; and
- Addressing interconnecting challenges faced by girls and young women by providing joined-up support
Following the event, we look forward to taking forth our recommendations with key audiences and decision makers to help ensure the experiences of young women and girls with multiple unmet needs are better met in policy and practice.
Read the full Girls Speak report here.