Young women in Britain face significant discrimination in the workplace with sexual harassment and low pay a common feature of their working lives, according to a report published today by the Young Women’s Trust charity.
The report, It’s (Still) A Rich Man’s World, highlights that 15 per cent of 4,000 young women polled in a survey during June and July 2018, have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. 25 per cent of the respondents feared losing their job for reporting sexual harassment and nearly one in five (19 per cent) women are illegally paid less than men.
The third annual survey was conducted by the Young Women’s Trust, which supports women aged 16-30 in England and Wales who are at risk of being trapped in poverty. Their report also highlights that 31 per cent of respondents faced sex discrimination when looking for work and 43 per cent of young mothers faced maternity discrimination while seeking employment.
Is the Equality Act Working?
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The Equality Act 2010 states that people, regardless of gender, should be treated equally, and are protected from discrimination in employment, education, public services, businesses (services and goods), transport and public bodies.
The Equality Act recognises sexual harassment as a form of discrimination – and protection against discrimination is a fundamental human right (Article 14 of the Human Rights Convention) which applies in the workplace. The Equality Act also enshrines the right to equal pay.
The UK has also ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), an international human rights treaty focusing on equality between women and men in all areas of life. CEDAW is often framed as a ‘women’s bill of rights.’
The Fight Continues
2018 is being celebrated as a landmark year in women’s rights and the fight for equality. It’s one hundred years since the first women in Britain were granted the right to vote, the #metoo movement is raising awareness of women’s experience of sexual harassment and, since April 2018, thousands of employers are legally required to publish gender pay gap figures.
However, the Young Women’s Trust report demonstrates that there is still a long way to go for women, and young women in particular, when it comes to finding employment without discrimination, working without being sexually harassed, and being paid the same as men.
The Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said:
“Sadly, even a hundred years after the first women gaining the power to vote, it’s still a rich man’s world. Young women continue to lack workplace power and spending power.
“Our annual survey shows that young women’s treatment at work, pay and well-being are trailing far behind those of young men.
“If 2018 is to be a turning point for women’s equality and not just a footnote in history, then it’s clear that we need deeds, not just words. We need to be impatient for change: a lot has been achieved in the last 100 years but there’s still a long way to go.
“A concerted effort is needed from government and employers to provide young people with security and hope for the future, redress gender inequality at work and help manage the growing mental health crisis among young people.”