We call for action as research reveals pressures on girls

Girlguiding Scotland is calling for politicians to listen to girls’ concerns as major new Girlguiding research reveals today (Thursday 24 September 2015) that UK girls are facing a maelstrom of pressures in their daily lives – posing a serious threat to their mental wellbeing and resilience.

The Girls’ Attitudes Survey – now in its seventh year – is the largest survey of its kind into the lives of girls and young women in the UK.

The 2015 report reveals that the pressures of gender stereotyping, sexism and harassment are taking a toll on girls’ mental wellbeing.

Key findings include:

  • In the past week, 81 per cent of girls aged 11 to 21 say they have experienced or seen some form of everyday sexism
  • Two in five have read something in the media that trivialised violence or abuse towards women
  • One in ten aged 17-21 has stayed in a relationship in which their partner has made them feel unsafe
  • Half said that they don’t feel safe in parks on their own (51 per cent)
  • Three quarters say anxiety about experiencing sexual harassment negatively affects their lives
  • Fewer than one in ten girls aged seven to 10 would choose a career as an engineer, scientist or lawyer
  • 82 per cent of girls aged 11 to 21 say adults don’t recognise the pressure they are under

Girls also feel that adults are out of touch with new threats to their wellbeing – leaving them struggling to find the support and information they need. 82 per cent of girls aged 11 to 21 say adults don’t recognise the pressure they are under.

But despite the challenges taking a negative toll on their lives, the report also reveals a generation of young women keen to take positive action to seek change – with almost three quarters (73 per cent) taking part in at least one form of social action, such as community work or speaking out about an issue.

Katie Horsburgh, 15, a Girlguiding Scotland member from Edinburgh and a Girlguiding Advocate, said:

“Girlguiding’s research shows that girls today face big challenges –and that they are crying out for change.

“Every day they are faced with sexism, fear or harassment and the limiting nature of gender stereotypes.

“Girlguiding Scotland empowers girls and young women to approach these issues head-on and to fulfil their potential – we’re asking decision-makers to take up the challenge with us to make life better for girls!”

Girlguiding Scotland’s Chief Commissioner, Sue Walker, said:

“This survey reveals really worrying statistics about girls and young women’s wellbeing and the challenges they face – but also that they are determined to take action themselves to change things.

“Girlguiding Scotland empowers girls to speak out and make their voices heard, builds their confidence and gives them a space to be themselves.

“Together with decision makers, we need to listen to girls, look at the pressures they’re facing and work alongside them to tackle them.”

Find out more by reading the full Girls’ Attitudes Survey findings or read our press release on the story.