‘Girls Speak’ was a project focused on girls and young women with multiple unmet needs and their experiences of services.
Every girl should be able to live her life free from inequality, poverty and violence. But too often youth policies, strategies and services fail to recognise that girls and boys have different needs and experiences.
They are missing from the public debate about the issues young people face and services and policies are designed without them in mind. Black and minoritised girls and young women, those who have been in care, LBTQ+ and disabled girls and young women face even further inequalities in accessing support.
This is why Agenda Alliance launched ‘Girls Speak’, a project to empower girls and young women at risk. Over two years, we worked directly with girls to ensure their needs and experiences are taken into account in policy and practice – creating real, lasting change for girls across the country.
Our final report, 'Pushed Out, Left Out', discovered that girls and young women with multiple unmet needs felt ‘pushed out and left out’ from appropriate help across services statutory and public services.
Key takeaways include:
- Girls and young women face distinct risks from boys and young men and “gender-neutral” policy fails to consider these distinct risks and needs
- Statutory services are often inaccessible for girls and young women with multiple unmet needs due to the barriers limiting access
- When access to statutory services is granted, young women often confront issues which marginalise them further, such as overstretched frontline professionals or inappropriate and/or discriminatory responses
- Every missed opportunity to help a young woman with multiple unmet needs causes harm and pushes her further away from getting the support that she deserves
- Policy and practice must be developed in a way that is gender-, age-, trauma-, and culturally- responsive to support young women with multiple unmet needs