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Safe, Surviving, and Thriving: A report on the impacts of COVID-19 on young women in Minnesota

Since the advent of COVID-19, members of the Young Women’s Cabinet, a program co-led with the Governor’s Office, abruptly transitioned into new ways of continuing the evermore present need to center the needs of young women and girls in our state. Through their own lived experiences as caregivers, essential workers, first-generation graduates, providers, and heads of households, the members of the Young Women’s Cabinet see that women and girls are experiencing unique impacts of the pandemic and its effects on their health, safety, and economic status.

As part of their Covid-19 response strategy, the Cabinet spoke to 126 young women and girls (ages 14 to 24) from eight community groups: African American, African Immigrant, American Indian, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Latinx, LGBTQ+, young women with disabilities, and greater Minnesota. Their responses, described in the Cabinet’s newly released report, detail the ways in which women and girls, including Cabinet members themselves, face barriers to safety, surviving, and thriving during the pandemic. 

At the same time, they’re finding joy amid the struggles and are calling for courageous policy solutions that center the needs and experiences of young women who’ve been pushed to the margins. They propose policy measures including:

  • Rent relief/moratorium
  • Additional protections for essential workers including hazard compensation and robust safety measures
  • Student debt relief
  • Accessible broadband Internet access
  • Expanded healthcare access
  • Student inclusion in COVID-19 relief packages

We must begin to rebuild our society through critical reflection, community leadership, and bold and courageous policy proposals. It is vital that we follow the lead of the women and girls in our state most directly impacted by COVID-19 and who live at the margins. It is our hope that with your voices, stories, and experiences we are able to collectively build a Minnesota where every young woman thrives.

The Young Women’s Cabinet, is a dynamic group of 31 young women and youth leaders (ages 16-24) from across Minnesota dedicated to racial and gender equity. In partnership with the Women’s Foundation and the Governor’s Office, the Young Women’s Cabinet is charged with centering the leadership and solutions of young women of color to improve equity and opportunity for young women in Minnesota. The Cabinet has engaged in leadership development, been trained as policy advocates, and has directed nearly $1 million in grants to nonprofits and individuals to advance equity.

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