Young girls gathered in a circle after football training

Gender Budgeting

Key points

  • The allocation of resources in sport is not fair. Whether we talk about money, time, profile or technical expertise, men’s sport has the lion’s share. This fundamental unfairness reflects a wider bias within society. 
  • Denying the existence of this inequality only serves to further it. We must understand the scale of the problem before we can fix it. This is why gender impact reporting – an honest assessment of how much of the resources of a sport are benefitting women and girls – is the first step. 
  • Gender budgeting – analysing the results of a gender impact report and adjusting resources accordingly – can then be implemented to make sport truly fair for women and girls

We urge the UK Government to make gender impact reporting a requirement of receiving public money for all sporting organisations in England, with a medium-term aim to introduce gender budgeting across sport.

What is gender budgeting?

A young muslim girl playing football in the school playgroundWhy do we care about gender budgeting?

At Women in Sport, we know that sport transforms lives: it empowers individuals and communities, it brings together whole nations, and it is critical to our mental and physical health and well-being. Yet it is still a domain with long-standing biases and deeply rooted gender stereotypes. This is holding girls and women back from the benefits and joy of sport.  

The governance structures that exist in most sports have been around for hundreds of years. In many sports, systems have existed in the past to actively exclude women from playing, in some cases until very recently. The resource allocation within sport at every level exist within these deeply gendered structures. How will they ever be fairly allocated to benefit girls and women as well as boys and men unless proactive steps are taken to ensure that they do? This is what gender budgeting will help to do.

A group of high school girls playing netballThe extent of the problem

In the 2022-23 financial year, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport spent £824million on sport in England. And yet the money spent on sport in the UK is clearly not delivering for women and girls. We have to question how much of it is really being spent on them at all.

To take just a few examples:

  • Despite the public funds invested in team sports, leagues and hosting major team competitions, 22% fewer girls play team sport than boys.
  • Girls remain less active than boys in every school year. Black and Asian girls are less active than their white peers – and the ethnicity gap between girls is greater than between boys. 
  • A recent count of leaders in the top twenty sports by participation in England[1] showed that across the roles of CEO, Chair and Performance Director just 17% were women
  • As hundreds of millions of pounds was funneled into sport to help it survive the pandemic women’s sport was left behind. Out of a total £35million of support given to football, the women’s game received just £3million (less than a third of that allocated to men’s non-league football).
  • Women and girls continue to face health inequalities and problems which could be ameliorated by physical activity:
  1. According to the Royal Osteoporosis Society[2] over 50% of women over 50 will break a bone as a result of osteoporosis compared to 20% of men. 
  2. Young women between the ages of 16 and 24 are almost three times as likely to experience a common mental health issue as men of the same age[3]. Five times as many girls as boys self-harm and nine times as many are hospitalised for eating disorders[4].

Two black women in a spin classGender impact reporting

We can’t solve a problem the scale of which we don’t fully understand. We need to know how much the sport sector is spending, in terms of money and other resources, on women and girls now before we can move forward. That’s why gender impact reporting is the first step in moving towards fair funding in sport.

Just like environmental impact assessments and gender pay gap reporting, gender impact reporting will shine a light on the effects that budgeting decisions have on girls and women in sport. Gender impact reporting is about considering all aspects of a sport that are affected by financial decisions; things like salary and training costs for staff, access to facilities, and coaching time available to men and women. By analysing how the full range of resources are being spent across the breadth of a sport we will start to reveal how much investment there really is in women and girls.

We recognise that this will not be a straightforward task and that sports organisations will need support. This includes support from the Government. Which is why we are urging the UK Government to take the first step and introduce a requirement for all organisations involved in the funding and/or delivery of sport and physical activity and in receipt of UK Government money to implement gender impact reporting.

A group of girls playing basketball, three girls are wearing hijabsGender budgeting

Gender budgeting will build on the foundation of gender impact reporting. Gender budgeting will involve analysing the results of a gender impact report and planning future resource allocation so that girls and women will ultimately benefit equally. It goes beyond adjusting spending to ensure a 50-50 split for men and women. It will be essential to engage women and girls in these processes.

Gender budgeting doesn’t necessarily mean that either government or individual sports must spend more overall. 

Gender budgeting should be a fundamental part of good business and financial planning and without it we will not be able to level the playing field for women and girls in sport. For some sports this will take many years to achieve, given the history of inequality that has existed in some sports.

Gender budgeting can be a powerful tool, acting as a circuit break for sport that enables a fairer system of resource allocation at both grassroots and elite level.

Policy recommendation

The UK Government should introduce a requirement for all organisations involved in the funding and/or delivery of sport and physical activity and in receipt of UK Government money to implement gender impact reporting, with a medium-term aim to introduce gender budgeting in sport.


[1] As defined by Sport England’s Active Lives survey: Active Lives | Sport England  Active Lives Adult Survey November 2021-22 Report (

[2] Media toolkit | ROS (  Media toolkit | ROS (

[3] McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014 [Internet]. Leeds; 2016

[4] Prevalence | Background information | Eating disorders | CKS | NICE  Prevalence | Background information | Eating disorders | CKS | NICE

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