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1 Jan 2020 | 16:16

The Sport for Development Coalition is well-placed to support the aims of the Government's Levelling Up White Paper. Here Stephanie Hilborne, CEO of Women in Sport, explains how her organisation will contribute:

Mission 7 of the newly published Levelling Up White Paper is that by 2030, the gap in Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE) between local areas where it is highest and lowest will have narrowed, and by 2035 HLE will rise by five years. While women live longer than men, on average they spend more years in poor health - women in the most deprived areas have a Healthy Life Expectancy that is 20 years lower than women in the least deprived areas.

“Sport and physical activity have an enormous role to play in preventing, managing, and recovering from many physical and mental health issues. For women in particular, regular physical activity during the teenage years and perimenopause drastically reduces the risk of osteoarthritis, which 50% of women suffer from in old age compared with 25% of men. Physical activity reduces the risk of breast cancer, which is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, and depression, which is reported to be almost double as prevalent in women compared to men.

“The latest Sport England statistics (Active Lives May 20-21) found that 19.5% fewer women meet physical activity guidelines in lower socio-economic groups compared to higher socio-economic groups. To level up Healthy Life Expectancy, we must level up physical activity levels across the country. It shouldn't matter where you live or how much you earn; women and girls must have access to sport and physical activity facilities and they must be inspired to use them. School sport and PE can no longer be viewed as dispensable, they must be invested in and revolutionised, recognising the specific experiences and needs of girls.

“Alongside Mission 7 of the Levelling Up White Paper, the UK Government has committed to setting out its strategy to tackle the core drivers of health inequalities through a new White Paper on Health Disparities to be published later this year. It is essential that gender disparities and differences are considered, and steps to level up physical activity and sport for women and girls are included.”


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