Women and Girls in Sport

Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at on 23 May 2024.

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Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Conservative, Aldridge-Brownhills

What steps she is taking to support the participation of women and girls in sport.

Photo of Greg Smith Greg Smith Conservative, Buckingham

What steps she is taking to support the participation of women and girls in sport.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

We have a number of individual initiatives to support the participation of women and girls in sport. The national physical activity taskforce is working across Government to ensure that women and girls get more active. We have established the Board of Women’s Sport to identify challenges and opportunities across women’s sport, and we are fully supporting Karen Carney’s recommendations to lift standards and deliver sustainable growth for women’s football.

Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Conservative, Aldridge-Brownhills

As you know, Mr Speaker, football is a great sport in which both boys and girls can participate. Walsall Football Club Foundation does fantastic work to encourage and enthuse schools in my constituency to participate through initiatives such as Let Girls Play. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that this is exactly what we need to do to encourage more grassroots sport for girls? Will she also join me in congratulating the boys team at Cooper and Jordan School on recently winning the Utilita kids cup final at Wembley?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I am delighted to congratulate the boys team, and to commend all the work done in local schools to encourage girls to get more involved in sport. That is why the Government are committed to equal access to physical education and sport in schools, so that girls are able to participate in whatever sport they like. If they want to play cricket, football or rugby, they should be entitled to do so. And it is why the Department for Education has published guidance on how to deliver a minimum of two hours a week of quality PE, alongside over £600 million of funding for primary PE and sport through the sport premium.

Photo of Greg Smith Greg Smith Conservative, Buckingham

There is no greater exemplar of encouraging women and girls into sport than the motorsport sector. From Susie Wolff’s F1 academy and Discover Your Drive to Motorsport UK’s Girls on Track scheme, the sector is discovering British talent like Abbi Pulling, who won both races in Miami in the F1 academy and then, the very next weekend, won the British F4 race here in the UK. And that is before I get on to the engineering and design roles. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that motorsport shows the way for other sports to follow?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend on the huge value of motorsport. I congratulate motorsport on its Girls on Track scheme, which is getting more girls and women into sport. I highlight and re-emphasise his point that motorsport is not just about the sport itself; it is a huge powerhouse for research and development that builds and supports innovation.

Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Opposition Whip (Commons)

I draw attention to my recent appointment to the board of Llanelli Scarlets.

I pay tribute to both Front Bench teams for the cross- party work in this House, because women’s and girls’ sport is really important. Will the Secretary of State join me in celebrating the activity of girls and women in sport? Whoever is in government next, we will continue to work across parties to ensure that the rights of all women and girls are upheld in sport.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I could not agree more. We do quite a lot of important cross-party work in this House. One of the things I have been most proud to be involved with in this role is supporting the women’s football team and women in sport. It was phenomenal to go to Australia to see the women’s team almost win the World cup, and it has been phenomenal to see the work that the Lionesses and former Lionesses have done to spotlight that. We are at a very exciting point for women’s football, and the Government are continuing to support it in so many different ways.

Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The Secretary of State talks a good talk, but on her watch the gender activity gap is wider than ever: 22% fewer girls than boys take part in team sport. Does she agree that it is only under Labour, the party of equality, that women and girls in Bristol and beyond will finally have equal access to sport?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I absolutely disagree with that statement, of course, because for a number of years now the Conservative Government have been supporting women and girls to get into sport, with a significant campaign to get more women and girls into sport, and the cross-departmental work with the Department for Education to ensure that young girls have equal access to sport in school. In fact, year on year, we have seen those numbers on participation in sport improve, and we also set up the national physical activity taskforce with the specific aim of getting 1 million more women involved in activity.