18 April 2002

18 April 2002
Q6 Alison Halford:

What action is the Minister taking to increase female participation in all sports in Wales? (OAQ16879)

 

Jenny Randerson:

 Increasing female participation in sport in Wales is one of my priorities. This is set out in the Assembly Government’s ‘Plan for Wales 2001’. I have asked the Sports Council for Wales to focus on this issue, and it is reflected in many of its initiatives, for example, the women and girls action plan, the Girls First initiative and the golf development plan.

 

Alison Halford:

 As we know, if sport funding was divided equally between the genders, we would have celebrated the opening of the Millennium Stadium for women’s rugby long ago. What can be done to support young girls to access fields and facilities that presently view them as different and second class, and to challenge the traditional images of some sports as male or female orientated? Initiatives such as the recently released film, Bend it Like Beckham, are excellent examples.

 

Jenny Randerson:

The answer to that question has many strands. Broadcasters have an important role in this issue. It is vital that the sports council ensures that governing bodies do not perpetuate the image that you conveyed. The Girls First scheme offers up to £1,000 to secondary schools to help provide additional curricular opportunities for girls, focusing on years 7 to 9. It is worthwhile to note that around 52 per cent of grant aid allocated by the sports council to governing bodies is for women-only sports. Around 38 per cent of those involved in the Elite Cymru scheme are women; I would like it to be 50 per cent, but 38 per cent is within striking distance..

David Melding:

 Do you agree that broadcasters have a responsibility regarding this issue? It would be outrageous not to broadcast women’s athletics on television, and we all expect and enjoy such programmes. However, many women’s sports are not covered. Is this not unacceptable?Jenny Randerson: I agree with you. I intend to hold discussions with broadcasters. I cannot tell broadcasters what to cover, but we should encourage them to look afresh at what they cover and what attracts the public. In America and Australia, the broadcasters’ approach to women’s sport is different.Jocelyn Davies: Do you agree that schools that insist that girls wear physical education skirts may be putting them off sport altogether? Do you agree that the PE skirt has now had its day?

Jenny Randerson:

 I am not inclined to give a snap judgement on the PE skirt, although I remember mine with horror. You are making the point that we need innovative and imaginative approaches to ensure that girls continue to participate in sport. All the evidence suggests that they are enthusiastic in primary schools, but that participation falls when they reach secondary school. We must ensure that girls are attracted to sport, for example by providing good changing rooms. The £48 million of new opportunities fund money will go towards providing good sporting facilities in schools.

 

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