Young women who experience sexism are five times more likely to suffer from clinical depression, a new study has found.
The study also found that women aged between 18 and 30 are more likely than those in any other age group to experience sexism – be it at school, work, on public transport, in taxis or outside of the home.
More than four in five young women who said they'd experienced sexism reported being subjected to street harassment.
"I think it's easier for people to get away with sexism in public because harassing a stranger doesn't usually have any consequences," a panel member told the Young Women's Trust and University College London, who jointly conducted the study. "The victim doesn't know the other person and probably won't see them again later."
The study also found that young women aged between 18 and 30 who experienced sexism were most likely to report mental health problems four years later. Another panel member said: "Sexism sits in the core of you and if you try and ignore it and don’t address it, it rots away and the problems permeate to other areas of your life."
A fellow panel member said that she felt that repeatedly being talked down to or experiencing other forms of sexism can "impact your self-esteem and make it harder to stand up for yourself in the future".
Sexism was defined in the study, which received responses from nearly 3,000 women aged between 16 and 93, as feeling unsafe, avoiding going to or being in a setting, being insulted and/or threatened, or being physically attacked because of your sex.
“What too often is dismissed as young women lacking confidence is in reality a crisis in mental health caused by a sexist society. Sexism is deeply affecting young women’s lives, their economic freedom and their health," said Sophie Walker of the Young Women's Trust.
"That’s why the next government must take urgent and concerted action to prevent yet more young women from experiencing sexual harassment and abuse, and the long-term harm this can cause.”
Walker called on the next government to introduce "more specialist young women’s mental health services", arguing that "mixed sex adult mental health services are often not accessible or appropriate" for their needs.