Lack of equality in Women’s Sport

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2013 National Women's Conference
18 October 2012

Conference, 80% of women and girls in the UK are not playing enough sport or doing enough exercise to benefit their health.

The success of Team GB’s women athletes at London 2012 was inspirational. With the exception of Jess Ennis or Victoria Pendleton how many others are household names?

From participation in grassroots sport to representation on sports governing bodies women lose out. Women’s sport suffers from a lack of investment, sponsorship, leadership and media exposure. A report from the Commission on the Future of Women’s Sport showed that between January 2010 and August 2011 sponsorship of women’s sport in the UK made up just 0.5% of the total market. It is a vicious circle; the lack of TV exposure keeps the sponsors away which prevents the investment in women’s sport. This prevents women’s sport from developing a large sustainable following and maintains the absence of a female sporting culture in the UK.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome is the sexism which still dominates. Media exposure for women sports stars is still predominantly based on looks rather than sporting achievements. Conference condemns the decision on the first day of London 2012 to have scantily clad women dancers and Benny Hill music entertaining the crowd at the women’s beach volleyball. Male TV commissioning executives refuse to acknowledge that there is demand for women’s sport on mainstream TV.

In recent years our national women’s football, cricket and rugby teams have been more successful than their male counterparts. It is about time that we have the opportunity to watch these games on mainstream TV. Women’s sport should be a fixture on TV throughout each and every year not just at times of major sporting events.

Conference applauds Unison in its sponsorship of women in sport for example the Unison sponsored Brayton Belles under 10’s team in the City of York girl’s football league.

Conference calls on the National Women’s Committee to

1) Write to mainstream broadcasters to seek greater equality in the coverage of women’s sport on TV

2) Explore ways to work in partnership with organisations such as Sportsister and The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) to promote equality in Women’s sport & fitness.

3) Seek the support of the National Executive Council for Unison’s commitment to continued sponsorship of women in sport.

4) Work with Labour Link to promote equality in all areas of women’s sport