In the House of Commons yesterday, Jo called on the Government to include women’s sporting events on the Free-to-Air list.
Research by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation found that 61% of girls agree that watching successful sports stars inspires them to be active, yet while the World Cup brings male sporting icons to our screens, for girls it offers only WAGs as rolemodels.
Jo is a Co-founder of the Campaign for Body Confidence, which is concerned that young girls are increasingly subject to body image pressure and sexualisation, and lack sporting role models who can positively reinforce messages of body confidence and the benefits of physical activity for overall health and wellbeing.
Commenting, Jo said:
“The World Cup is brilliant for promoting the benefits of sport for people’s health, but unfortunately women’s sport hardly gets a look in when it comes to air time on TV.
“Increasingly, young girls are feeling under pressure to be sexy, and they need positive role models to demonstrate that there is more to life than being a WAG. Leading sportswomen show that you can be healthy, happy and body confident – and what’s more, taking part in sports is much more fun than crash diets and cosmetic surgery.”
Sue Tibballs, CEO of Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation said:
“We know that the public really get behind our sportswomen when they are winning titles and championships all over the world, and evidence shows that more media coverage could inspire more young girls to get involved and take part.”
WSFF has also found that found that on an average day outside the World Cup season, women’s sport accounts for just 4% of the sports coverage on Sky.
The text of Jo’s question to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport appears below:
Jo Swinson: Research by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation shows that 61% of girls agree that watching successful sports stars inspires them to be active, but while male sportsmen are all over our screens, women’s sport receives far less media coverage. Will the government include some women’s only sport on the Free-to-Air List, to help promote female sporting rolemodels for the nation’s girls?
Hugh Robertson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport:
The answer is in two parts. We have called for independent economic analysis on the listed events review. That is due in the Department this week. We will look at that carefully before coming to any formal decision. I absolutely agree with what the hon. Lady says about the positive promotion of female role models through sport. London 2012 is a fantastic opportunity for that, and I very much welcome the decisions made about women’s boxing and the equalisation of events in cycling. That, I believe, is the way to move forward.