Physical activity: The gender gap

Let’s talk about women for a moment.

We’ve given you statistics about how active Europeans are, and as you know by now, the numbers aren’t looking good. Unfortunately, they are even worse for women. In fact, 63% of women in the EU never or seldom exercise or play sport.

The WHO underscores the importance of physical activity for women by highlighting its contribution to building self-esteem and confidence, and providing a vehicle for social integration and equality for women in society. Research has shown that sport can help to challenge gender norms and provides women and girls with opportunities for leadership and achievement.

Furthermore, physical activity has been shown to reduce the occurrence of many of the diseases and conditions that affect women across globe, including breast cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

So, what’s the hold up?

Men in the EU play more sports than women overall. However, the disparity is particularly marked in the 15-24 age group, with young men tending to exercise considerably more (71% at least once a week) than young women (50% at least once a week).

What’s shocking is that the gender divide in physical activity starts as early as seven years old! Indeed, according to a study in the British Medical Journal[i]., only 38% of seven-year old girls, compared to 63% of boys were achieving the required amount of physical activity.

This needs to stop.

The European Week of Sport is working to make sure ALL Europeans get moving and work together to build a #BeActive society. Ensuring that girls have access to opportunities to engage in sport and physical activity – particularly in the educational setting – is a critical step to closing this gender gap.

[i] Griffiths, Dezteux,, “How active are our children? Findings from the Millenium Cohort Study”. British Medical Journal, 2013

2 thoughts on “Physical activity: The gender gap

  1. Will girls benefit from additional structure and boys benefit from more opportunities to make connections? Of course! Understanding gender is not about pitting girls against boys; it’s about bringing in more activities and procedures that can benefit the students in the classroom. Seeing through the lens of gender in the classroom can help teachers reconsider or examine their current practices.

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