Get up and go

The LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board is committed to promoting equality and supporting councils to help communities to be active.

ill take an in-depth look at a range of inequalities with the aim of sharing effective practice within the sector. The first of these projects will focus on women and girls.

Why women and girls? Well, research shows that women are persistently less active than men and that the gender gap starts from a young age. 

Being physically active is important because it has been shown to improve health and wellbeing, manage and prevent many long-term health conditions, improve social connectedness and decrease feelings of loneliness and exclusion. 

Despite this, four in 10 women are not active enough to ensure they get the full health benefits.

Over the past five years, Sport England’s Active Lives survey has shown little progress being made: in 2021/22, men were 4.8 per cent more active than women, similar to the gender gap recorded in 2014/15; while in 2022/23, boys were 6.8 per cent more active than girls, the same gender gap recorded in 2017/18.  

Disparities also exist within ethnic groups. Black men are 11 per cent more active than black women. Asian boys are 10 per cent more active than Asian girls.

Women’s and girls’ attitudes towards prioritising and participating in physical activity significantly differ to those of men and boys.  

Insights from Sport England’s ground-breaking ‘This Girl Can’ campaign highlight that women feel that spending time with friends and family or studying/working should be more important than being active.  

Thirty-one per cent of women say lack of time is a factor when trying to increase the amount of physical activity and exercise they do. Likewise, girls report prioritising schoolwork over being active. 

Girls report more negative associations with physical activity and lower levels of enjoyment compared with boys; while 22 per cent of women have concerns about sexual harassment when doing sport or physical activity, a figure that doubles outdoors in the dark.

Turning the tide is not easy, but momentum to get more women and girls active is growing at the national level. 

‘This Girl Can’ helped to kickstart it in 2015. More recently, Sport England’s 10-year strategy, ‘Uniting the Movement’, prioritises positive experiences for children and young people. 

The Government’s ‘Get Active’ strategy wants to get a million more children and 1.25 million more women active by 2030. It’s the focus of the Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s current inquiry into women’s sport.

Councils will be important in delivering on these shared ambitions, and at the LGA we want to understand more about what local government is already doing to get women and girls active. 

From hyperlocal interventions to shaking up the system, we want to hear about how your council is effectively tackling inactivity and low participation levels in girls and women.  

We also want to hear about the challenges stopping you from delivering on this agenda and what the solutions might look like; and to gather evidence on the impact national funding is having on your ability to help more women and girls get active. 

We will use your examples to share effective practice with the sector and inform our lobbying work on behalf of councils.

The LGA’s call for evidence on supporting woman and girls to be active closes on 12 April 2024.


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