Responding to the Women and Equalities Committee Report

The Government have responded to Sexism and Inequalities in Sport, which put forward proposals aiming to remove barriers preventing girls and women from being physically active.

Earlier this year, the Youth Sport Trust welcomed a report from the Women and Equalities Committee – Sexism and inequalities in sport – which put forward proposals aiming to remove barriers preventing girls and women from being physically active. The Government has now issued their response to the report and its recommendations, which we have summarised with some additional commentary below.


Health and physiology

The Government partially accepts the Committee’s recommendation to urgently review the quality and timeliness of education on girls’ health and physiology in the context of PE and school sport, stating that menstruation is currently taught as part of the statutory Relationships, Sex and Health Education curriculum and that schools are able to organise and deliver a “diverse and challenging PE curriculum. However, the response notes there soon will be a call for evidence on how the PE national curriculum is being implemented and how it supports pupils to be more active, including in key stage 4. The Government’s response notes the availability of the Period Product Scheme, which provides free period products to girls and women in their place of study and has been used by 99% of secondary schools. However, this is currently only confirmed until July 2024 and unless it is reconfirmed risks progress being lost.


PE kit

The Government accepts the recommendation that the Department for Education and National Physical Activity Taskforce review guidance for schools on PE kit, with the aim of ensuring all schools permit the widest possible choice for girls. In addition to restating the non-statutory guidance on school uniforms – which calls for PE kit to be practical, comfortable, appropriate to the activity involved and affordable – the Government calls for schools to proactively engage with parents and pupils when designing their uniform policies.

This inclusion of youth voice is vital to ensuring kit meets girls’ need, with our most recent Girls Active survey finding 56% of girls would like more options to choose from and 29% of girls stating they do not like the look of their kit.   Improving kit is important if we are to increase girls’ enjoyment of PE, which has declined over recent years and lags behind boys. The Youth Sport Trust is proud to be working in partnership with England and Great Britain hockey star Tess Howard’s Inclusive Sportswear to improve kit options for girls and young women. Together, we are designing guidance for schools on PE and sport kit including best practice for co-design and ensuring that different options are available. Our ambition for this guidance is to help schools develop more inclusive PE and sports kit provision and policies, and ensuring young people are integral to developing this.


Early years gender stereotypes

The Government partially accepts the Committee’s call for a new strand of the This Girl Can campaign aimed at parents, to tackle early years gender stereotypes around physical activity and sport with a focus on the role of fathers.  The response states that This Girl Can was designed with a focus on women and girls between 14 and 60, with tackling early years stereotypes not one of the original campaign objectives. It adds that the School Games Mark requires schools to demonstrate how they are overcoming gender barriers in PE and school sport, and that a recent National Physical Activity Taskforce session featured a paper from the Department of Health and Social Care on the importance of supporting children under five years old to meet the Chief Medical Officers’ physical activity guidelines. However, in our view there is further work to be done to tackle gender stereotyping as part of a wider ambition to deliver societal change that encourages girls to be physically active.


National Physical Activity Taskforce

The Government accepts the Committee’s recommendation that officials from the Minister for Women and Equality Hub attend the National Physical Activity Taskforce, the cross-government group aiming to increase levels of physical activity across society. The Youth Sport Trust has been engaged in two previous group meetings, as well as supporting the analysis sub-group to provide data and evidence. We are pleased that the Taskforce has made children and young people’s physical activity a priority and will continue to share our expertise and experience as required, with the hope that the Taskforce is able to deliver the change necessary to meet the targets within the Government’s Get Active sport strategy.



The Government accepts the recommendation for the convening of a female health in coaching education working group, to develop a strategy to better educate coaches at all levels. The response references a project led by Sport England, managed by Women In Sport and delivered by The Well HQ, which will support parents, teachers and other sports leaders and educate them in female health and encouraging women and girls to participate through puberty and the menopause. We are pleased that this project includes a focus on female PE teachers who have a vital role to play in delivering positive participation in physical activity from a young age, and that it seeks to empower girls including by raising awareness and expectations of what the sporting environment should look like, as a way to improve experiences and drive improvement.


Published on 21 May 2024