Women’s homelessness - the challenges they face


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This theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Inspire Inclusion - a vision that involves working towards a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. 

If you’re visiting our social media platforms, you’ll see that on this day each year we change our logo and branding to Simone on the Streets in order raise awareness of the very specific challenges, myths and stigmas faced by women experiencing homelessness. And in this week’s blog that’s something we’re delving into a little deeper. 

As official government figures show that the number of women sleeping rough increasing by 22% in 2023, it’s important to consider the ways in which we can make a change - and that starts with looking at the causes behind women’s homelessness, and the challenges they pose. From domestic violence to menstruation, below are just some of the things that highlight how vital it is to see beyond the statistics.

#1: Domestic violence 

Whilst domestic violence can apply to both men and women, for our purposes here we’re specifically addressing that experienced by women. 

Domestic violence is something that many women experiencing homelessness have in common, and it’s a problem exacerbated by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis. 

Research from St Mungo’s has shown that a third of the women they spoke to cited domestic violence as a reason for them being homeless. Conversely, women living on the streets are more vulnerable to violence from those around them - whether that’s from members of the public or a partner. 

Whether women are facing homelessness as a result of domestic violence or vice versa, the link between them is undeniable. 

#2 Menstruation 

There are a number of very real practicalities that women are forced to work around when facing homelessness - menstruation being one of the most challenging. 

Without regular access to clean toilet facilities, let alone the funds to buy the sanitary products they need, it’s clear that menstruation can cause a risk to women living on the streets, leaving them at risk of poor health and infection. 

Other problems menstruation poses are a lack of dignity, feeling forced into stealing the products they need, and a lack of clean and fresh clothing. It’s hard to imagine how women living life on the streets are able to cope.  

#3 Hidden from sight, and support 

Whilst there’s an assumption that women are more likely to seek the support they need than men are, it’s important to make the distinction between turning to family and friends and turning to professional services. For so many reasons, many women simply don’t feel able to ask for help. Whether they’re living in fear of domestic violence, have worries around support being tailored to their needs, or simply due to the sense of failure and shame that they feel, the fact is that women continue to hide from sight and become part of the hidden homeless. 

As a result, the figures relating to women’s homelessness are unlikely to be an accurate reflection of the true extent of the problem. 

This International Women’s Day, we hope to raise awareness of the fact that different women have different experiences. They’re women with their own histories, stories, and family backgrounds - they’re more than statistics, and they’re far more than people forgotten, hidden from view. 

Here at Simon on the Streets, we’ll continue to provide support however we can, and help women experiencing homelessness look to a better future. Click here for ways in which you can help too. 

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