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How Covid has harmed women’s jobs

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A recent report published by Australians Investing in Women (AIIW) found that three out of five job losses during the pandemic were women. At the height of the pandemic in May 2020, young women lost 25 per cent more jobs than young men. And following this, between June and September 2021, women lost twice as many jobs as their male counterparts.But the most alarming part? These women were in a vulnerable position, aged between 15-24.Daily Telegraph – News Feed latest episodeAs a demographic, they made up 58 per cent of job losses across the same time frame. The concerning statistics in the report show the harsh reality of what it’s like to survive as a vulnerable young woman in Australia, however little is being done to improve their circumstances.The problem inherently lies in the fact that this stage of life is considered a “group” of women, instead of a “gap” between adolescence and adulthood, that often isn’t addressed or spoken about. The transition from adolescence to adulthood is already a tricky time of life for most of us, but for vulnerable women, they make the journey without family or community support. Often, they need a steady bridge to walk on and the necessary safety nets to ensure they don’t fall through the cracks. This “gap” between teen and adulthood was my exact motivation for creating the Warrior Woman Foundation in February 2020 aiming to provide support, training and mentorship for women who need it the most. However, little did I know that same month a global pandemic would be added to the mix, the bridges for many young women would collapse, and we would have to send out the life rafts in full force.The impact of the pandemic has been felt the hardest by young women without post-school qualifications, especially in industries most impacted by lockdowns, such as retail, hospitality and the arts.As a former high school teacher and a passionate advocate for women’s education, I was most horrified to learn around 34,000 women are now unlikely to complete a Certificate III or IV because of the pandemic.Consequently, they face a 10 per cent reduction in their employment prospects and a fall in full-time earnings of almost $3000 a year.Sadly, job opportunities are often the least of their worries for these vulnerable women transitioning into independent living. We know that family and domestic violence also rose during the pandemic, and hasn’t showed signs of decreasing, as well as increased rates of youth and female homelessness. Overall, we need a proper action plan to support women in this “gap” period of their lives where they are given the proper support and resources to position themselves for a more positive future. So how do we do this? EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATEThe short answer is re-engaging them with education, training and meaningful employment so that they can become independent and stand on their own two feet. The solution starts with creating pathways to education and employment for young women who need it the most. BUILD FINANCIAL LITERACY Women 55-plus are one of the fastest growing vulnerable groups in Australia and retire on average with $250,000 less than their male counterparts. We need to teach women how to earn, spend and save wisely to plan for a secure economic future. We need to educate our younger generation to become financially and emotionally secure so they don’t continue the cycle of living close to the poverty line due to lack of retirement savings or employment options.PREPARE THEM FOR EMPLOYMENT Getting a job sounds easy, right? Well for many vulnerable women, it’s not that simple. Vulnerable women are often exploited by their employers and don’t have a safety net to fall back on. These women need psycho-educational and holistic support to help them establish boundaries for their own self-care and reduce the risk of financial or professional exploitation.DON’T NEGLECT EMOTIONAL WELLBEINGI’m a true believer in the “teach a young woman to fish” philosophy. Teaching her to fish and providing the tools to fish are crucial, but if she doesn’t have the mental/emotional capability to do so, she needs further assistance. Therefore, group psycho-educational support plays an equal part in our program along with education and connection.If young women who have experienced or/are experiencing trauma can’t self-regulate their emotions, they are not likely to be able to hold down a job.If they don’t have the skills to identify and retain healthy relationships, they are at risk of attracting unhealthy ones and possibly being trapped in them. If they don’t learn how to set boundaries for their own self-care, they are more likely to have people break through them. These are the skills we teach at the Warrior Woman Foundation through our flagship program, the Young Warrior Woman Program; combining life-skills education, mental health support and connection to a safe and nurturing group of female mentors.In 2022, I hope to see greater opportunities for employment and financial security for vulnerable women.Acknowledging the disparity in job loss between men and women is a great start, but now we need to create avenues and pathways to employment to amend the financial loss and damage that the pandemic has brought to young, at-risk women. Jessica Brown is founder of the Warrior Woman FoundationNED-5192-DT-App-Banner



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