The re-opening of pools and indoor leisure facilities on 12 April is a big moment. Society should use this as an opportunity to refocus on gender equality in sport, because sport is not just something that is physically good for you; it is fun, fulfilling and provides life-long benefits, yet too many girls and women are still missing out.
As we emerge from this viral pandemic, we need to renew our emphasis on the pre-existing and now worsening pandemic of inequality, not least gender inequality. Women are coming out of this pandemic with fewer jobs and a reduced chance of equal pay. They are emerging with heightened awareness of the disproportionate responsibilities they carry for everyone else in their lives and many are feeling more anxious. Sport and exercise are a brilliant antidote to anxiety, they are liberating and access to sport is a human right.
Before lockdown, women were particularly dependent on pools and leisure centres for exercise, and they lost that. Whilst some women have found the joys of running or online exercise classes for the first time, many more have lost fitness as they’ve put everyone’s needs before their own.
Today we are asking that society invests in its women and girls and their health and happiness through sport and exercise. Our research tells us that 61% of women and 82% of girls intend to put more effort into being active as they come out of lockdown, but they can’t do this on their own. Women in Sport is calling for:
- The Government to significantly increase investment in local authority leisure facilities and community sport across the country
- Community sports clubs and schools to provide supportive, clean, and safe environments designed for girls and women
- Domestic responsibilities to be shared equally so that women have time to be active
- Employers to recognise the specific needs of all women in their workforce – not least those with the pressure of childcare, caring for elderly relatives or managing menopausal symptoms – and maximise flexibility so that they can fit sport and exercise into their week
- Women and girls to play a full part in the decision-making process; giving them a voice and choice in what is offered
For more information on our research findings visit:
Lockdown Research – Implications for Women’s Participation in Sport
The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Teenage Girls’ Lives and Physical Activity