Written evidence submitted by the Women's
Sport and Fitness Foundation
The Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF)
is the charity that campaigns to make physical activity an integral
part of life for women and girls in the UK.
WSFF welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Culture
Media and Sport Select Committee's consultation on Olympic Legacy.
WSFF would like to focus our response on the following two key
1. Progress towards meeting targets to increase
grass roots participation in sport.
2. How success in delivering a lasting legacy
can be measured.
To take these in reverse order, our response
to the second question is as follows:
The participation legacy of increasing
the numbers taking part in sport and physical activity by one
million each should continue to be measured by Sport England's
Active People survey.
Sport England uses the Active People survey to
measure their progress towards the target of getting one million
more people playing sport by 2012. It can be easily expanded to
measure the Department of Health's target of increasing the numbers
of people who are physically active by one million.
WSFF is supportive of Active People's continued
use to measure the London Olympic and Paralympic participation
legacy. It produces thorough data and can be an effective means
for the Government to measure two key targets which sit across
two different departments. It also has important side benefits
for sports deliverers, providing them with detailed information
which helps them plan their activity the most effective ways.
In response to the first question, our key points
WSFF recognises that 2012 must deliver
a lasting legacy of grassroots participation if the Government
is going to deliver on its promise to the British people when
it won the bid. So far, there has been a critical lack of leadership
to convince us and others that this legacy will be delivered,
so we are very concerned about progress towards targets.
Of specific concern to us is the real
risk that even if there is an increase in participation, this
will not substantially include women. Women's participation already
seriously lags behind that of men (only 12.7% of women compared
to 20.6% of men participate in at least three 30 minute sessions
of sport per week) and is going down while men's is going up (Active
People 3 data).
Women are also a very different marketplace: women tend to take
part in different activities, have different motivations and face
some specific barriers. For this reason, it is vital that the
participation legacy for 2012 should not just focus on sport,
but should also include physical activity.
To date, women's interests have not been
well-served by sport policy and sport delivery. In the past, women
have been bundled up with other minorities as a "hard to
reach" group. This has meant strategies for women tend to
form part of equality strategies rather than core business strategies.
This has resulted in initiatives aimed at women being "added
on" rather than "built-in". In addition, previous
targets to increase women's participation have been dropped and
funded sports no longer face any explicit penalties if they fail
to engage and recruit women. Riskgender duty.
Meanwhile, the opportunity that 2012
represents should be more fully recognised: the Beijing Games
were watched by more women globally than men. Many of our real
sporting heroines excel in sports that we only see during the
Games. The London 2012 Games present a "once in a generation"
opportunity to inspire more women and girls to be active and to
reverse the historic gender bias in British sport.
While we are concerned about the lack
of progress, WSFF also believes that women present a tremendous
opportunity: in fact, we believe women represent the biggest space
for sport to grow. If concerted action is taken now, we believe
we can inspire a million more women to take part in sport and
physical activity (50% of the Government's target). To achieve
this, we recommend the following steps are taken:
The Government's 2012 legacy target to
get two million more people physically active (including one million
through sport) should be split by gender to ensure strategists
and providers are explicitly required to attract female participants.
Those championing the 2012 legacy and providing the leadership
need to be helped to understand the particular challenges and
opportunities represented by the women's market.
Government needs to use its influence
to encourage sports bodies to appoint more women to senior positions.
Currently only one in five of senior decision-makers in sport
is female, which means that a female perspective is often missing
from high level debates and decision-making. Reputationally, British
sport should also be working harder to ensure it is an inclusive
and progressive sector given the eyes of the world will be upon
us in 2012.
The British sports media also needs to
give more priority to women's sport. Typically only 2% to 5% of
all sports media coverage is devoted to women's sport. Given its
unique remit and so influence, Government should require the BBC
to work harder to promote women's sport.
A high level political strategy to increase
women's participation should be produced as a partnership between
DCMS, DoH and DCFS setting out clearly both the issues and the
opportunity. The main sporting bodiesSport England,
UK Sport and the Youth Sports Trustshould also give a much
more explicit commitment to growing women's and girls' participation
and agree clear strategies for achieving this.
As part of its strategy, Sport England
should consider re-introducing penalties for those sports who
fail to show a clear commitment and strategy to reach more women,
or who fail to set and meet targets.
Every Local Area Agreement should be
encouraged to include an Olympic branded physical activity participation
target. Sport England and the Department of Health hold responsibility
for the two million participation target. However, WSFF believes
that local authorities have a crucial role to play in driving
up participation as part of the Olympic Legacy in their areas.
Currently only 53% of Local Area Agreements (LAAs) contain NI8
"Adult Participation in Sport and Active Recreation".
We would like to see all 150 LAAs adopting a 2012 Legacy target
for increasing participation in sport and physical activity, broken
down by gender. This would allow local areas to use the power
of the Olympic brand to tailor their participation programmes
to meet the needs of their local community. Local authorities
could be incentivised to include this target with the introduction
of a Department of Health and Department of Culture Media and
Sport match funding investment pot for physical activity and sport
There should be a greater focus on mass
participation events as part of the participation legacy of the
Games. WSFF believes that mass participation events should be
a crucial part of the participation legacy programme for the Olympic
and Paralympic Games. Not only do they encourage more people to
be active, but they also being communities together and can take
the Olympic legacy to areas of the UK outside of London.
Experience shows that mass participation events
are particularly good at motivating women to become more active.
Well established mass participation events such as Race for Life
and Sky Rides have proven to be very popular with women and girls
who enjoy the social, goal orientated, professionally organised
aspects of them.
WSFF would therefore recommend Olympic and Paralympic
branded mass participation runs, swims and bike rides to be held
in cities across the UK each year approaching 2012 and for at
least two years thereafter.
KEY FACTS AND FIGURES
2.7 million women (12.7%) take part
in regular sport every week but this has fallen by 61,000 since
2007-08. During this period men's participation has increased
by 176,600 to 4.2 million.
Comprehensive information on participation in
sport and physical activity can be found at http://wsf.org.uk/documents/Participation_factsheet_November_09.pdf
2. BARRIERS WOMEN
School sport is turning girls off
A quarter of women are put off sport for life
due to their experiences during PE at school. Schools should consult
with their female pupils to find out what they would like to participate
in during PE and act accordingly.
To increase the participation of the whole nation
in sport it is crucial to understand the barriers women face when
accessing sport. Specific barriers that women face include:
Being active is perceived as being
Girls currently grow up with a different set
of expectations from boys: society teaches them that it is attractive
to be decorative and passive rather than physically active. We
need to challenge these deep rooted assumptions. A nation that
celebrates active women needs to be created. Sport must be redefined
and re-branded to make it cool and fun for girls. Women's sport
and sportswomen need to be better promoted and celebrated.
Women's sport doesn't get the coverage
it deserves in the media
On average, between 2-5% of sports coverage in
national and local print media is dedicated to women's sport.
This leads to a dearth of female role models to inspire sportswomen
and create the next generation of healthy, active women.
Sport doesn't currently meet women's
Women are motivated to take part in physical
activity for different reasons than men. They want to enjoy physical
activity with their family and friends, and take part in exercise
to feel good about themselves. To motivate more women the sport
sector should adopt a consumer orientated approach. Lessons can
be learned from the retail sector, for example, an arena where
women feel comfortable. For sport this means showers that work,
with clean well lit changing rooms that allow for privacy and
have hair dyers and even hair straightners provided. For most
women their motivation for getting involved in sport is not about
winning or competition. Women and girls respond better to the
social, health and well-being benefits of physical activity than
competition. Only 36% enjoy the competitiveness of sport compared
to 61% of men.
Women are under-represented in the sports sector.
This can make some feel that they do not belong. Only one in five
members of boards of NGBs are women and one quarter of sports
have no women in board positions at all. The LOCOG Board itself
only has 1 woman on its Board of 18 individuals. Sport must adopt
best practice in corporate governance that achieves fair, open
and transparent recruitment process.
Inflexibility of sporting activities
Team sport is usually played at regular set times
during the week, yet many women, particularly those who have caring
responsibilities and/or work full time, do not feel they can make
a commitment that involves regular, inflexible training and match
times. Women can find it difficult to access a sport at a level
that suits them. There is a lack of introductory sessions for
team sport, and new participants are often deterred by expectations
that they will play in a competitive league. Sport needs to be
flexible so women can fit it into their busy lives. At a practical
level, payment options should be flexible and women should be
able to access facilities at times that suit them. Where possible
cre«che and child care facilities should be available at
gyms and sport clubs. Policy makers could also consider promoting
physical activity that does not require travelling to a club or
sports centre, such as walking or jogging, which women often find
more flexible and easier to fit into their lives.
10 Please find information on the barriers women face
to participation as an appendix at the end of this document. Back