Women in Sport

Policy Piece

The below content sets out the Scottish Government’s position on the topic of women in sport, and also includes a ‘state of the nation’ prepared by the government’s analytical department.

Policy Position : Physical Activity


Our vision is of a Scotland where more people are more active, more often.


The Physical Activity Delivery Plan  is informed by cross-cutting guiding principles, which align with the agenda set out in the WHO Global Action Plan on Physical Activity and with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They are consistent with the Scottish Government’s Programme for Scotland 2017-18, to make Scotland an inclusive, fair, prosperous, innovative country, which is ready and willing to embrace the future.

These principles bring together international thinking on what is required to realise the major contributions physical activity and sport can make to transforming people’s lives. Embedding the principles in the work we and our partners do is fundamental to ensuring that our efforts make a real contribution to changing the world for the better.

Human Rights-based Approach

As part of our inclusive approach, the actions in the Delivery Plan incorporate a commitment to engaging and empowering individuals and communities to actively participate in the development of solutions as part of a rights-based approach. The Scottish Government has committed to supporting the United National Convention on the Rights of the Child, which acknowledges the importance of play as a right of every child.

Equity Across the Life Course

We will seek to provide opportunities for all people at all ages and abilities to participate in physical activity with a priority towards addressing disparities and reducing inequalities.

Evidence Based Practice

Our actions will be based upon a robust evidence base as well as practice-based evidence from active evaluation and with demonstrated effectiveness in a variety of contexts.

Reducing Inequality

Our actions will focus on the need to reduce inequality in the opportunities to participate in physical activity and will seek to allocate resource towards the actions needed to engage the least active and those who face the greatest barriers to participation.


We will work to empower everyone in society to participate in the development of policies and interventions that affect them in order to remove barriers and to provide inspiration and motivation to participate in physical activity.

Joined-up Policy

We will seek to enhance policy coherence across sectors to ensure that policies across different areas are developed in a way which encourages physical activity.

Multi-sectoral Partnerships

We will foster collaboration across and between stakeholders to ensure a comprehensive and integrated approach guided by a shared vision of the value of a more active Scotland.

These principles reflect the Scottish Government’s emphasis on the importance of empowering communities. When communities feel empowered, evidence shows that this leads to increased confidence and skills, more people volunteering, greater satisfaction with quality of life in the neighbourhood, and greater engagement in local democracy.

Access to opportunities to experience the many benefits of physical activity and sport is a right we want everyone to have. Achieving our vision of a Scotland where people are more active, more often is therefore both an outcome of following these principles, and a means of advancing the principles in their own right.

Women and Girls

The Scottish Government increased sportscotland’s core funding by £2million in 2018-19, from £29.7million to £31.7million, to prioritise the development of sport within Scotland.

Through this we will continue to invest in our communities, clubs and schools which will include a specific focus on equalities ensuring the world class system is for everyone.

In recent years we have seen some good progress, with more women and girls participating in sports, but there is still more we can do to get women and girls involved in sports from grassroots right up to performance levels, which is one of the reasons why the increase in funding for sportscotland is so significant.

Supporting sports development in Scotland is of huge importance – being more active can contribute positively to areas such as mental and physical health and we would like to see more people taking advantage of the facilities on offer to them and getting more active in 2018.

The number of women and girls taking part in a wide variety of sports and physical activities has increased over recent years. This includes recreational walking, netball, hockey, cycling, basketball, rugby and shinty. Although physical activity levels among teenage girls are increasing, we recognise there is more to do to increase participation and raise awareness across the sector and remove the barriers that some still face when it comes to getting involved in sport and physical activity.

The Scottish Government established the Women and Girls in Sport Advisory Board to provide expert advice to recommend what more we could do to increase participation and make sport and physical activity more accessible for every woman and girl in Scotland.

We also established Scottish Women and Girls in Sport Week that supports raising awareness of increasing opportunities and solutions on overcoming barriers to participation and helps to drive change for women and girls in Scotland.

Through our £300,000 Sporting Equality Fund we fund 14 projects across Scotland that cover a broad spectrum of activities such as Bike Packing, wheelchair basketball, dance and cycling. These projects provide opportunity to engage with and increase participation of women and girls in physical activity that would not normally engage. We plan to provide further continuation of such a fund in 18/19.

Further reading: Scottish Government Analytical Services – State of the Nation