Fewer than one in 10 women released from a jail sentence of less than 12 months are able to get a job, prison reform campaigners have claimed.
The figure is three times worse than the equivalent figure for men, according to a briefing by the Prison Reform Trust.
In addition, the report claims nearly half of women leaving prison are reconvicted within one year of release.
The briefing calls on the Government to develop a strategy to increase employment opportunities and programmes for women with a criminal record.
Jenny Earle, director of the Prison Reform Trust’s programme to reduce women’s imprisonment, said: “Much more can and should be done by Government, probation and resettlement services and employers to support women into work and financial independence, making them less vulnerable to the abusive relationships that lie behind much of women’s offending.”
Elsewhere, the briefing claims two thirds of women in prison have dependent children, and a third of mothers are single parents prior to their imprisonment.
Four in 10 – or 38% – mothers in custody claim their offending is linked to “a need to support their children”, according to the Prison Reform Trust.
Justice minister Simon Hughes said: ” I’m not prepared to accept a situation where female offenders don’t have the chance to turn their lives around and support themselves and their families.
“As part of our reforms, all women’s prisons are to become resettlement prisons to keep women as close as possible to their homes and families, as well as prepare more effectively for their release back in to their local community.
“We are also supporting female offenders through training and education opportunities in custody, as well as linking up with local employers to help more women find employment on release.”