Woman doing a pilates class

Our asks for government

A new government with a new opportunity to deliver positive change for women and girls and recognise the value of sport to their lives.  

Here’s how we think the government can create the conditions to make sure all women and girls have the opportunity to discover the joy, fulfilment and lifelong benefits of sport. 

WRITE TO YOUR MP

Make sport fair for women and girls by…

Gender budgeting

Make gender impact assessments mandatory for all sports organisations in receipt of public money. Use this data to make more equitable decisions about investment in women’s sport, including equal pay. Increasing the resources available to women’s sport in this way would be transformative, giving more women and girls more opportunity to get involved and ensuring women’s sport is truly able to thrive. It would make funding in sport fair. 

50-50 leadership

Make it mandatory for all sports organisations in receipt of public money to have 50-50 representation of the sexes on their boards and do more to support the sector to improve the diversity of senior staff (especially Chairs, CEOs, and Performance Directors). Women’s lived experience must be an equal part of the decision-making process within sport. We will not close the gender play gap unless there is change at the very top of sport.  

50-50 visibility

Work with public service broadcasters to achieve parity in their sports coverage. Our Dream Deficit research shows the impact of the visibility of women’s sport on girls and young women. Parity of coverage – particularly on the free to air public service broadcasters – is a vital factor in growing audiences and revenues for women’s sport and inspiring more women and girls to find the joy in sport, whether as participants or spectators. 

  • 27 %

    of women do less than 30 mins of activity a week.

    Sport England

  • 22 %

    fewer girls than boys take part in team sport.

    Sport England

Stamp out misogyny by…

Anti-misogyny policies 

Making it mandatory for any organisation in receipt of public money to have anti-misogyny policies and associated training. This includes the government itself, universities and schools, and sports organisations like National Governing Bodies and Sports Councils. An anti-misogyny policy is not a cure all, but it is an important step for any organisation. We can’t stamp out misogyny unless it is recognised and addressed, not just within organisations but across society. 

An Independent Regulator for sport 

Introduce a new Independent Regulator to tackle abuse in sport, something which disproportionately affects women and children. Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson’s 2017 Duty of Care in Sport Review recommended such a body, but it still does not exist and National Governing Bodies of individual sports cannot deal with abuse on their own. Tackling abuse more effectively would ensure that the culture of sport changes, making it safer more and welcoming for women and girls to participate at all levels.  

Criminalising misogyny 

Promoting misogyny is still legal in the UK. We support calls for dedicated legislation to criminalise misogyny, by the introduction of specific offences. This would make it an offence to threaten rape, for example. A legislative solution is set out in Baroness Helena Kennedy’s report to the Scottish Government. Tackling misogyny at a societal level in this way will be a key part of stamping out misogyny for good. 

Improve the lives of women and girls by… 

Tackling health inequalities through sport 

Recognise the value of sport and physical activity to improving some of the most pronounced health inequalities that affect women and girls throughout their lives. The next government should embed sport and physical activity in updated women’s health strategies. Health professionals should be better supported to build their knowledge of women’s health issues and gendered health inequalities, and more should be done to ensure that women are listened to in healthcare settings. Using sport as preventative health care in this way will not only improve the physical and mental health of potentially millions of women and girls, it will also relieve the pressure of the NHS. 

Improve support and training for teachers and coaches in gender stereotyping 

Improve the training offered to teachers and coaches on the physical and biological realities of being a girl, especially the impacts of female puberty and gender stereotyping. Improving the experience of sport that girls have at school could transform the relationship they have with sport throughout their lives; building a generation of happier, healthier women who love sport and know that it is somewhere they belong.  

Why should the government care about women’s sport? 

Sport can transform lives. It can give girls and women resilience, courage, self-belief and a sense of belonging. However, it is still the case that too many ordinary women and girls are missing out disproportionately on the joy, fulfilment and lifelong benefits of sport throughout their lives.   

Women and girls are less active at every stage of their lives. The gender activity gap is wider than it’s been since reporting began. Inactivity levels among women have increased, with 27% of women doing less than 30 minutes of activity a week. There is a particular gap around team sport, with just 3% of women taking part. When it comes to children, 22% fewer girls than boys take part in team sport. 

The result of this can be seen in the staggering physical and mental health inequalities that women face. 90% of those hospitalised with eating disorders are female. Self-harm is five times more likely in young women. Two million women in England and Wales have osteoporosis. Half of women over 50 will break a bone because of this disease, compared to 20% of men. The cumulative impact of this on the NHS and on the economy should be obvious to any government. 

Women and girls are suffering because of the gender play gap. But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

Enough is enough. The government must step up and recognise the value and importance of sport to women and girls. It must recognise the value of women’s sport to society. It must be ready to play its part in closing the gender play gap.  

Read our recommendations

Our Policy Positions...

Young girls gathered in a circle after football training

Gender Budgeting

Money spent on sport and physical activity is not shared fairly between men and women. We’re calling on sport, policymakers and the government to focus on gender budgeting and deliver fair funding for women’s sport.

A group of women and girls playing football

Trans Inclusion

Sport is inherently physical, so the different physiologies of the sexes matter. Read about our stance on transgender inclusion in sport.