Women and Multiple Disadvantage Survey – Summary of Key Findings
WEN Wales is pleased to present a report on the key findings from our Women and Multiple Disadvantage Survey (2014 – 15). The survey aimed to gather data from organisations about the causes and impacts of multiple disadvantage for women in Wales.
We used the term “multiple disadvantage” to refer to the issues that arise “when individuals or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems, such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown” (Social Inclusion Unit, 1997).
The survey included fourteen questions which asked respondents to tell us about the work they do, the kinds of multiple disadvantage experienced by the women they work with, and whether they think the situation is getting better or worse.
Forty seven respondents completed the survey, the majority of whom were representatives from third sector organisations and projects that work with some of the most disadvantaged women in Wales.
The resulting data should not be interpreted as a measure of multiple disadvantage in Wales, but rather as a useful snapshot, which captures the views and concerns of organisations that work closely with women and regularly encounter the problems caused by multiple disadvantage.
Respondents point to lack of education and skills, poverty, and belonging to groups that experience discrimination as causes of multiple disadvantage in women’s lives. These problems are then compounded by external, or structural factors, such as lack of information, indirect discrimination and the general economic climate. Respondents report that the effects of multiple disadvantage include low confidence, lack of autonomy, isolation, social exclusion and increased vulnerability. Multiple disadvantage also results in a lack of access to services and resources.
The economy emerged as an area of major concern for respondents. The survey data paints a bleak picture of a worsening situation in which the cumulative effects of austerity, decreased funding, public sector cuts and welfare reform are contributing to disadvantage and making work more challenging for organisations. The responses also send the message that improvements can be made through increased information, better local services, partnership work and legislative change.
WEN Wales would like to thank all the respondents who took time out from their busy schedules to complete the survey. The data will be used to inform our ongoing policy and influencing work on behalf of women in Wales.