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by ukactive Chair Tanni Grey-Thompson

Women’s Sport Week kicked off this week and it’s a timely opportunity to talk about the roles of women in sport.

There is a substantial gender disparity when we look at the number of women working in sport. For almost half of publicly funded national governing bodies, less than a quarter of their Board are women. Women make up only 18 per cent of qualified coaches and 9 per cent of senior coaches. This lack of representation seems to trickle through to the most basic levels; 1.9 million fewer women than men participate in sport on a regular basis.

This sporting disparity is something that Women’s Sport Week seeks to combat. Now in its second year, Women’s Sports Week is co-ordinated by leading charity Women in Sport, working with major broadcasters such as Sky Sports and BBC Sport, as well as the Department of Media, Culture, and Sport. The week (3-9 October) will celebrate and showcase women’s sport at every level, from the grassroots to the elite, and will highlight the incredible contribution that women make to sport.

There has been some encouraging progress at the top levels of sporting governance, such as the impressive work of Tracey Crouch as Minister of Sport. Yet, when I look at a lot of our female athletes leaving sport now; the level of opportunity hasn’t got any better for the vast majority. Indeed, only recently has the IOC met its self-imposed threshold of having women make up 20 per cent of the board. We do need to break up the boys club. Doing so will produce a greater diversity of ideas, a greater understanding of the barriers to entry for women in sport, and more representative governing bodies. This can only be positive for both men and women’s sport from the boardroom down to the grassroots.

Last year’s Women’s Sport Week was a triumph in generating debate and celebrating women’s contribution to sport and I feel this year can build upon that success and be even bigger and better than the last. Wouldn’t it be great to see more spotlight on female sporting stars, drawing on a wildly successful Olympic and Paralympics Games? This would help build a culture in Britain where women feel encouraged and welcomed into sport. Women’s Sport Week is a great opportunity to really drive the agenda and I urge everyone to get behind it.