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Scottish Government urged to improve women's participation in sport

By Kyle Ritchie

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The Scottish Government has been urged to do more to improve participation in women's sport so parity can be achieved with men.

MSP Tess White, the Scottish Conservative Shadow Public Health Minister, commended breakthrough north-east women in sport such as Aboyne’s Hollie Davidson and Aberdeen-based cricket team Northern Lights during a Holyrood debate on the wellbeing of children and young people.

Ms Davidson is a professional rugby union referee while Northern Lights are making their debut in the Women’s Premier League, marking an important point in the upward trajectory of women’s cricket in Scotland.

Ms White, who is a Shotokan Karate black belt, said more still needs to be done to increase rates of physical activity among children and especially young girls.

MSP Tess White is a black belt in Shotokan Karate.
MSP Tess White is a black belt in Shotokan Karate.

Latest figures from Public Health Scotland show just more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of children aged two to 15 are physically active at the recommended level, including activity at school, but this number has declined compared to previous years.

During the debate in the Scottish Parliament Ms White said: “The health, social care and sport committee has called on the Scottish Government to set out how it intends to increase rates of physical activity among children and young people, and especially girls and young women, throughout the school day and beyond.

“The Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport said in her evidence that ‘you cannot be what you cannot see’ in relation to low participation levels in women’s sport.

“In my own region there are some exceptional women who are leading the way in this area – the Montrose FC Women who recently won the Scottish Women’s Championship North League; Aberdeen-based cricket team Northern Lights who won their debut match in the Women’s Premier League, and Hollie Davidson, the first female to referee a men’s Six Nations side in a test match.

“These are the successes that we must be celebrating and sharing to improve participation in women’s sport, and to achieve parity of recognition with men’s sport.”

Ms White later added: “It’s absolutely fantastic to see women making the breakthrough that they deserve in a range of sports, from football and rugby to the likes of cricket.

“But it’s abundantly clear that more still needs to be done for female sport so women have an equal opportunity of being part of our rich sporting culture in Scotland.”

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