Improving Outcomes for South Asian girls in the UK


The north west of England faces serious challenges in terms of social deprivation, particularly in and around Liverpool and Manchester.  Among widespread disadvantage, certain population groups face greater economic disadvantage than others- particularly Asian women.    Rather than victimising these women, we advocate for an alternative, more positive narrative on social mobility and community integration. Young adult women are under achieving in the work place and with the right opportunity, these girls have the potential to make a strong economic contribution to the North West of England.


26% of ethnic minority 16-24 year olds are unemployed, compared to 14% nationally.  Employment of women in the North West is just below the national average of 66%.  Only 55% of ethnic minority women are employed.  Yet it is well documented that young South Asian girls achieve better than average academic qualifications.  This leads to the hypothesis that girls do well academically but struggle to find a good foothold in the labour market.  There are several factors affecting the employment of women.  Location of ethnic minority groups in some of the most deprived communities in the country suggests that economic deprivation may be a significant factor in access to employment. Other factors may be discrimination, lack of confidence, lack of aspiration.  Though we cannot discount there could be cultural barriers or attitudes that may also contribute to poorer labour market outcomes, our hypothesis is that this is not a significant contributing factor.  Labour market studies show a clear ethnic minority penalty which in turn impacts on the sense of belonging and confidence of these young women.


Statistically it can be concluded many girls are under-achieving in terms of their personal potential to be active and powerful members of a broad society. The dynamics within less-integrated communities result in girls missing opportunities to accelerate their own personal and economic success and fulfilment.  Rather than force debates around community cohesion and integration, and the need for systemic cultural change in less integrated communities, Savannah Wisdom aims to identify solutions that will work within the social constructs affecting these girls.  It is likely these young girls represent a much needed, under-utilised force for growth in the North West. It could be they have the potential to make a strong economic contribution to North West England, possessing high potential to be effective members of the skilled workforce. This aligns with efforts to boost economic growth in the North West.  It also aligns with the need for social and economic mobility from some of the more disadvantaged parts of the North West, and the long term desire for a better and one community.


Savannah Wisdom is conducting an ethnographic research study which will use available data, research and expert interviews to build an accurate picture of:


  1. Current outcomes for low income, young British Asian girls from less-integrated communities in North West England, for example, social integration and contribution to broader society, social mobility, vulnerability to sexual and other violence/exploitation, perceptions of their own life chances and ambitions, mental health, economic and political power, career direction, educational achievement,


  1. Given the social constructs defining their community, identify contributing factors influencing girls’ life potential, for example

– parenting and family life, parental and youth grievances

– peer social norms

– role models and sources of inspiration

– targeted services such as confidential advice, counselling, career advice,

– ability to identify and respond to threats of violence/exploitation

– ability to access relevant information and services beyond their community


  1.  Specifically understand how the consequences of discrimination and disadvantage experienced by girls, might lead to disempowerment and a lack of equal opportunities. Identify the life stages at which these issues manifest and to what extent.


  1. Identify the evidence and evidence gaps around proven interventions that work to address these factors and improve girls life outcomes.


  1. Landscape the current activities underway to support girls, including government, NGOs, local community, employer and other initiatives.


  1. Highlight best practice, key trends and learnings/failures.


  1. Present the current political and social context relevant to these issues, and identify opportunities and threats.


  1. Identify solutions and opportunities for private sector and public sector partnerships to achieve the desired outcomes and drive long term, sustained change. Identify opportunities to catalyse this change.