Matthew backs women’s sport equality fund boost

Sturgeon pledges £300,000 at Dundonald AAM Ladies Open forum

SCOTS golfer Catriona Matthew has hailed the launch of a Sporting Equality Fund which aims to increase involvement in women’s sport.

The £300,000 boost for finding ways of closing the gender gap was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at a forum held before the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open at Dundonald Links.

As we pointed out in our recent leader editorial and our column from Scottish Women in Sport’s Maureen McGonigle, female participation lags behind that of males with the gap widening in teenage years.

Matthew said: “As a mother to two young girls, I am delighted to hear about the Sporting Equality Fund which aims to get more women and girls actively participating in sport. Keeping fit and healthy is so important in terms of health, wellbeing, mental strength and social mobility.

“I choose to follow an active lifestyle and I would encourage others to do the same as there is a sport for everyone, regardless of your age, ability, shape or size.”

Ms Sturgeon told the Ladies Scottish Open Forum: Leadership in Business and Sport: “We’ve seen some good progress in recent years, and it’s encouraging that activity levels amongst teenage girls are increasing. However, there is still a gender gap in sports participation and physical activity levels. There’s also a shortage of women involved in sport from grassroots right up to elite level.

“My government is committed to doing more to support women and girls to be more active and to promote their participation in all aspects of the sporting sector and in being active more generally.

“That is why we made this commitment to establish a £300,000 Sporting Equality Fund. This fund will aim to increase the participation, engagement, and promotion of women in sport. We look forward to working with sportscotland and others over the summer to take this forward and will be announcing more details later in the year.”

Chairman of sportscotland, Mel Young added: “sportscotland is committed to building a world-class sporting system for everyone in Scotland with equality and inclusion to ensure that sport is accessible to all being a clear priority.

“We will continue to work with the Scottish Government and key partners across the Scottish sporting system to promote an inclusive approach, building on the findings from the equalities research jointly commissioned by sportscotland and the Equality and Human Rights Commission published earlier this year.

“It is by working together that we will help create and raise awareness of the opportunities for women to participate in sport at all levels, across all disciplines and in all roles.”